Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I vas only following ze orders

When it gets later in the evening and Spot wants a post to show some effort for the day, Scott Horton’s No Comment is usually a good place to turn for something to pass along.

There have been several posts over the last few years here at the Cucking Stool about the Nuremberg Defense: I am not guilty of war crimes because I was following the orders of my superiors. Although the Nuremberg Tribunal convened after the Second World War held that it was no defense, it continues to be raised by persons trying to shift the blame for their conduct to others.

Horton tells us about one of the latest examples:

According to a translation by the Associated Press, [former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon] Lady has set up a defense that sounds remarkably familiar: he was just following orders.

”I am not guilty. I am only responsible for following an order I received from my superiors,” Lady was quoted as saying by Il Giornale. “It was not a criminal act. It was a state affair. I find consolation in reminding myself that I was a soldier, that I was at war with terrorism, and that I could not discuss the orders I received,” he was quoted as saying. “I have worked in intelligence for 25 years, and almost none of my activities in these 25 years were legal in the country in which I was carrying them out.”

Lady was apparently against the action that was taken — kidnapping an alleged al Qaeda operative off the streets of Milan in one of those special renditions you’ve heard so much about — but Horton reminds us that it really doesn’t make any difference:

From a number of reports, Lady was intensely critical within CIA circles of the proposed effort to snatch Abu Omar. As it turns out, Italian prosecutors were on the verge of arresting and prosecuting Abu Omar before the CIA interceded. Chief Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro stated that the criminal case against Abu Omar was demolished by the CIA action. But Lady opposed the action, noting that it would be understood by the Italians as a crime and would badly damage the relationship with a NATO ally which was supporting the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. It turns out that Lady assessed the situation with perfect accuracy. It’s a shame that his bosses in Langley didn’t listen to him. However, “only following orders” is also known as the Nuremberg defense, and the problem is that it is no defense at all. [Spot’s italics]

Unlike the United States, persons can be tried in Italy in absentia, as Lady and 25 other Americans are over this affair.

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