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Was Nuremberg a Temporary Convenience?

By Paul J. Balles, May 10, 2009

Paul J. Balles calls on the Obama administration to bring to justice the sadistic, supremacist psychopaths who seemed to take delight in torturing their illegally-held prisoners at Guantanamo and those who authorized them to practise their depravity.

The CIA agents who tortured "enemy combatants at Guantanamo were either too stupid to be intelligence agents or they were indecent criminal sadists. They should be prosecuted.

They were no different from those that Justice Robert Jackson, Chief United States Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, referred to in his opening statement to the tribunal.

Justice Jackson declared that the men charged "represent a sinister influence that will lurk in the world long after their bodies have returned to dust. They are living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power."

The indecent Guantanamo torturers could not possibly have committed the kinds of depraved cruelty they did unless they believed they were racially superior to the victims they hated enough to commit such outrages against.

These intelligence gatherers had to love the violence of terrorizing their charges so much that they could subject one of their prisoners to waterboarding an average of six times a day for a month.

How could anyone claim to have some vestige of humanity while smashing a shackled man's head against a wall? But Bush Justice Department memos reveal attempts to give the torturers free reign.

Marjorie Cohn writes: “The memos justify 10 techniques, including banging heads into walls 30 times in a row, prolonged nudity, repeated facial and abdominal slapping, dietary manipulation, and dousing with cold water as low as 41 degrees.” She adds:

They allow shackling in a standing position for 180 hours, sleep deprivation for 11 days, confinement of people in small dark boxes with insects for hours and waterboarding to create the perception they are drowning. Moreover, the memos permit many of these techniques to be used in combination for a 30-day period. They find that none of these techniques constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

What kind of sociopathic joy did these arrogant victimizers get as they took turns keeping their victims awake with ear-shattering music blaring away?

When they put insects into the cell of a prisoner who was terrified of insects, did the jailers find delight in the inmate’s suffering?

Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney has tried to defend these vicious atrocities by boasting about how much intelligence was acquired from these torture sessions. That's a convenient, unsupported ruse.

If you thought the torturing started just before or after the "justifying memos" from the Justice Department, think again. The Washington Post reports:

Previously secret memos and interviews show CIA and Pentagon officials exploring ways to break Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees in early 2002, up to eight months before Justice Department lawyers approved the use of waterboarding and nine other harsh methods, investigators found.

Sitting next to the top of the chain of bullies, Cheney is the most depraved of the monsters who took delight in their sadistic episodes. Absolutely nothing justifies the abominations committed by the previous administration.

Here's a real clinker from the McClatchy reports:

The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al-Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime... Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

One of the worst things that the current administration can do is to relieve these savage torturers of their heinous crimes by talking about looking forward and promising the guilty agents they won't be prosecuted. To do so makes a mockery of the judges at Nuremburg.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see




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