Saturday, October 30, 2010

American Justice?

Consider the "justice" handed out by the US in two different cases:
  1. Berga, a subcamp of the notorious Buchenwald compound, was run as a death camp for American soldiers who did forced labour. The camp commanders, Erwin Metz, and his superior, Hauptmann Ludwig Merz, were tried for war crimes in Germany in 1946. Merz and Metz were found guilty and sentenced to die by hanging. Yet, in 1948, the U.S. government commuted their death sentences, and in the 1950s, the men were set free.

  2. Omar Khadr, a child soldier, only 15 when seized by US troops in Afghanistan and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier (but there is conflicting evidence and this isn't clear). His Al Qaeda father pushed him into Al Qaeda and at 15 international law says he can't be treated as a true soldier because he is still a child. But the US has held him for 8 years, tortured him, and is now asking for a 25 year sentence for this "dangerous combattant".
The US has gone off the rails in the last 65 years. It's economy is a mess because fundamental values of honesty, hard work, and a cheerful optimistic attitude have given way to cynical political manipulations, rampant greed by the top 1% of the population, and social conservatism that eats its own children out of a blind and stupid hate of the society that is changing around it.

Here is a video of a survivor of the Berga camp:

You can find more about his story and the shameless way the US backed off prosecuting the German camp commanders for their crimes in this CNN article.

You can read more about Omar Khadr in his Wikipedia page. And you can read about the vicious, wildly cruel "prosecution" call for a 25 year sentence here. It starts with:
Omar Khadr is "a terrorist and murderer" who should be sentenced to 25 years in jail, the prosecution told jurors during closing arguments Saturday at the Canadian's war-crimes trial.

Prosecutor Jeff Groharing said the murder, attempted murder and terrorism-related charges Khadr pleaded guilty to earlier this week "amount to hate crimes in the extreme."

Groharing said Khadr, 24, must face severe punishment for the pain and suffering he caused with his actions.
Funny... Khadr is a "vicious" murderer at 15 in a smoke-filled fight in which it is hard to know who did what, so he must be punished harshly. But the camp commanders who took American soldiers on a death march have their sentences commuted and are freed in a few years despite:
Acevedo's diary entry from that same day, April 19, paints a different picture. "More of our men died today, so fast that you couldn't keep track of their numbers," he wrote. "We kept on marching. I fell back of the column to help the sick ..."
The next day, he added, "Day and night, it rained. Every man was wet from top to bottom. We march and as we walked along the road you could see men which had been shot through the head. These were political prisoners. Every 25 yard intervals there layed 3 or 4 men -- men that couldn't make the march had to drop out, then were shot."
Something has gone horribly wrong in the last 65 years. The very idea of "justice" has been corrupted in the US.

There is something very strange going on in the US. Barack Obama was elected with a pledge to close down Guantanamo in 12 months. The understanding was that Obama would stop the military tribunals and move all prosecution into normal judicial hearings. None of that has happened. The charade of "justice" continues whether it is the ideological George Bush or the "supposed" liberal Barack Obama. It is as if there is a hidden hand of government that moves in its own mysterious ways despite the popular vote or the facade of democracy put forward by elections. Very strange.

Update 2010oct31: The Canadian cartoonist Ingrid Rice nails this situation. She has a cartoon of two US bureaucrats discussing the Omar Khadr. One guy says:
Well it took 8 years: bullying, hooding, torture, threats of gang rape in Afghanistan, denial of a lawyer for 2 years, years of interrogation in Guantanamo, threats of being sent to the Middle East to be tortured, being put through a kangaroo court but we did it! We finally got a guilty plea out of Omar Khadr.

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