Abu Ghraib US prison guards were scapegoats for Bush’ lawyers claim

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Industrialsize, May 2, 2009.

  1. Industrialsize

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    Seems like a BIG mistake is being made. Why did they prosecute and imprison the people who were "carrying out orders", and why aren't they prosecuting those in the DOJ and Bush Administration who formulated and gave the orders?????

    "Prison guards jailed for abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq are planning to appeal against their convictions on the ground that recently released CIA torture memos prove that they were scapegoats for the Bush Administration.
    The photographs of prisoner abuse at the Baghdad jail in 2004 sparked worldwide outrage but the previous administration, from President Bush down, blamed the incident on a few low-ranking “bad apples” who were acting on their own."



    ‘Abu Ghraib US prison guards were scapegoats for Bush’ lawyers claim - Times Online
     
  2. vince

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    While I support the prosecution of those giving the orders and setting the policy, it does not absolve those soldiers who carried out the orders from being guilty of war crimes. "Only following orders" was not an acceptable defense at Nuremberg, nor should be be now.
     
  3. canuck_pa

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    Bravo Indie.

    I've wondered the same thing. I hope they're successful on their appeal.
     
  4. dong20

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    I said the same thing here only recently.

    I suspect the issue is one of practicality and expediency; a perception that it's better to be seen to do something, rather than nothing.

    I know the military have enough crap thrown their way, and I try not to be unduly critical - but it seems to me that some of these people likely had a case to answer, and should have been held to account for any knowingly illegal actions they undertook, orders or not.

    If these convictions are sound and don't fall on appeal, then even if they are politically motivated, they are not a mistake. If they fall on appeal, I can't see much likelhood of any meaningful persuit of those higher up the chain of command.

    If they stand, don't they speak to the likely guilt of those who issued such orders if one believes that's the case? In which case any foot dragging in initiating an active investigation into that upward chain of command goes way beyond a mistake, it is a travesty of justice.

    The difficulty will lie in proving clear and unambiguous orders to undertake, rather than tacit approval of illegal and [unauthorised] actions but that difficulty should be no automatic bar to the attempt.

    The issue of politically motivated trials is a tricky one, made more so where actual crimes have been committed. This, and an undoubted difficulty in proving [legally] culpability among the civilian ranks of the former administration are issues which may remain largely unresolved for some time, perhaps indefinitely.
     
    #4 dong20, May 2, 2009
    Last edited: May 2, 2009
  5. vince

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    You make several good points. Yes, if the convictions of the soldiers directly involved in the crimes are overturned, even if they were scapegoats for higher ups, then it follows that no crime was committed and further actions of a legal nature would seem moot.

    I'm not sure trials could truly be called politically motivated, although they surely would be labeled as such by political allies of the accused (whomever they may be). If orders were issued that violated US law or treaty law, then individuals could be clearly tried. Getting to the ultimate issuer of the orders, could be impossible. In the absence of a 'smoking gun', I don't think 'policy' can be put on trial. Especially if it's the wink, wink nudge, nudge, "keep your mouth shut" variety.

    Can civilians be tried for dereliction of duty or failure to uphold their oath of office in which they swear to defend the Constitution, for not stopping the crimes? Is that possible under US law? After they have retired from office?
     
  6. Calboner

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    That, of course, is what Bush and his administrators counted on all along: see to it that the ones at the bottom know what they are supposed to do, but never give an unambiguous order, so that if the whole business blows up, only those at the bottom will face consequences for it. It's a very effective mode of criminal operation for those in high places.
     
  7. houtx48

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    obama should pardon Bush like Ford pardoned Nixon then he can tell what he knows without the fear of being prosecuted.
     
  8. Calboner

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    Well, former Secretary of State Rice is already taking the Nixonian line on presidential authority. Asked by a student at Stanford University whether waterboarding is torture, she said, in the course of her reply, "By definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture" (article with video).

    Isn't it nice to know that President Bush had the magical power to make laws conform to his actions instead of having, like ordinary mortals, to make his actions conform to the laws?
     
  9. dong20

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    Indeed.

    I suppose it's similar (after a fashion) to the 'directing mind' concept when seeking corporate manslaughter convictions under common law, where there is an absence of specific corporate manslaughter legislation. It's something that has proven extremely difficult over the years.

    If one considers (just for example) a Government agency as a 'corporation', such specific legislation may make a prosecution easier, but what punishment would possibly fit? There seems to be a clear need to identify individual culpability and with the best will in the world that's seldom an easy task.

    Besides, corporate manslaughter legislation is not intended to (nor I believe should it) address war crimes, but the prosecution of senior members of a [former] US adminstration for such offences is unprecedented. Somehow, I just don't see it happening voluntarily.

    In any event, even though such crimes have been 'acknowledged' hasn't such an action all but been ruled out already - at least in terms of a state prosecution? If that is the case then don't these convictions rather stand against natural justice and become liable to quashing.

    I know that appears to somewhat contradict what I wrote earlier but if (and Vince, for clarification I'm not saying I believe this to be so) they were proven to be politically motivated, and even if said crimes were proven it would seem unreasonable to continue to hold the axe accountable for the [alleged] crimes of the axeman - if the axeman has been granted de facto immunity from wielding it.

    Even so, the actual prosecutions (even if overturned) may stand as a warning that such actions would not go unpunished in future, or so one would hope.

    In other words, while I'd hate to see such crimes go unpunished, that would be an injustice but I wonder that in such circumstances such punishment [as the OP reads, scapegoating] runs a real risk of camoflaging an even bigger injustice.

    It's something of a mess.
     
  10. faceking

    faceking Well-Known Member

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    zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
     
  11. midlifebear

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    Let's invite Faceking to a pool party. Then we can all take turns playing "Marco" "Polo" with him and see how long he can hold his breath under water.
     
  12. Calboner

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    By the way, a scapegoat is a purely ceremonial bearer of guilt. The prison guards at Abu Ghraib were not innocent: they were subordinate agents of a crime. The proper term for how they were used is "fall guys," not "scapegoats."
     
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