Protections for War Criminals?


America's top military lawyers came out in opposition to the Bush Administration's proposed secret military tribunals at Congressional hearings yesterday. Apparently, these military officers understand their obligation to uphold the Constitution better than the civilians in the Bush White House. Let' s hope that Congress will listen to the concerns of these officers and reject secret tribunals.

However, another issue arose at yesterday's hearings–what to do with service personnel who may have perpetrated war crimes? According to the Washington Post:

[U.S. Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales also confirmed a report last week in The Washington Post that the administration plans to include language in the legislation designed to protect service personnel and civilians from domestic war-crimes prosecutions for any violations of the international laws of war that are committed under administration policies that have been withdrawn or ruled illegal.

"It seems to us it is appropriate for Congress to consider whether or not to provide additional protections for those who've relied in good faith upon decisions made by their superiors," Gonzales said.

Perhaps so, but that ignores the question of what to do with the "superiors" who ordered service personnel to violate the law. They cannot use the excuse "I was only following orders" because they were the ones who gave the orders. Of course, anyone who intentionally violated the laws of war while not following orders should be prosecuted.

Whole article here.