The Nuremberg Offense

Senate Democrats are “hinting” that CIA veterans will not be prosecuted for harsh interrogation conducted on George Bush’s watch. The AP reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein [D., CA] told The Associated Press in an interview this week that there is a clear distinction between those who made the policies and those who carried them out.

I don’t get it. If waterboarding, for example, is a crime when Bush or the NSA approve it, how is it not a crime to actually carry it out? I thought we settled this at the Nuremberg trials. Feinstein’s comments sound like a Nuremberg Offense: “We’ll accept in advance that you were just following orders because we don’t like George Bush.”

The article goes on to talk about Sen. Ron Wyden’s attempts to launch a fishing expedition in top secret documents related to interrogation and detention practices. The Oregon Democrat would like to declassify and release these documents. “No one’s talking about some witch hunt,” he says, but he certainly cannot take himself seriously. If he is successful in making the documents public, it will generate a storm of civil suits against the CIA and its employees on behalf of (at minimum) Guantanamo detainees.

The Center for Constitutional Rights already represents those detainees. What it is likely to do can be predicted from positions it has already taken. The CCR has contended that the Nuremberg war crimes laws should have been applied to Americans involved in the Vietnam War, has filed suits against former head of the Intelligence Branch and former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and sued Caterpillar Inc., on behalf of Rachel Corrie’s family.

To suppose CCR will observe “a clear distinction between those who made the policies and those who carried them out” you have to be a Democrat Senator. To suppose that the public interest in the program(s) origins, effectiveness and legal basis can only be satisified from classified details, which necessarily include other information best kept from our enemies, you have to be talking about a witch hunt.