Anthony Lewis takes on the war crimes of the Bush administration:
Conservative commentators have already warned against any future US prosecution, arguing thatreprehensible as the treatment of some detainees wasthose responsible did not have criminal intent. The argument is unpersuasive on the facts, because Secretary Rumsfeld and others were warned by senior Pentagon civilian and military lawyers, including the navy general counsel, Alberto Mora, that their policies would violate the law.
And it is unpersuasive on the law, because a mistaken view of the law is not a defense under the principles established at the Nuremberg trials. The Nuremberg precedents also dispose of Dean Edley's argument that lawyers cannot be prosecuted for advising officials that they can commit what are in fact crimes. German lawyers were convicted at Nuremberg as enablers, in their legal advice, of Nazi crimes. President Bush said, "We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it."
Prosecutions are not a likely course for a new US administration. But there are steps that should be taken to confront the horrors our government has perpetrated. At a minimum we must lift the cloak of secrecy from what was done and from some still-classified legal opinions that purported to legitimize these acts.
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