Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 24, 2009
WAR/LAW: Ignorance of History

Ed Morrissey has some fun with an article contending that if trials were good enough for the Nazis, they should be good enough for Al Qaeda - but completely ignoring the fact that the Nuremberg trials were military commissions without the full panoply of criminal procedures available today in federal court.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:33 PM | History • | Law 2009-13 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Clueless liberal! Oh wait, that is self redundant!

Posted by: Lee at November 24, 2009 2:18 PM

F'n liberals. Dummies probably think they can win a war in Afghanistan too.

Posted by: Berto at November 24, 2009 3:16 PM

Ingnorance of History Redux.

Nazi Germany was a governmental state, with all the obligations and privileges of a state. Nazi Germany engaged in acts of war, as commonly understood in the community of nations, not just warlike acts like bombing a building. (Question -- since McVey and Nichols engaged in a terrorist act, why were they subject to criminal trials? Oh, that's right, because we have a Constitution.)

Posted by: magrooder at November 24, 2009 4:40 PM

magrooder, you do realize you're making my point for me about why this analogy is silly, right?

McVeigh & Nichols were pretty much the whole conspiracy, or most of it. The issue isn't whether terrorist acts are also crimes. The issue is that a small handful of guys do not make a war. An organization like Al Qaeda, with international reach and funding, with support from sovereign states, with scores of trained operatives, is an entirely different level of threat.

Posted by: Crank at November 24, 2009 4:53 PM

Magrooder, Mc Veigh and Nichols were both American citizens and therefore entitled to the protections of our Consitution. Terrorists and other non-uniformed combatants on the battlefield are addressed in the Geneva Convention. My recollection is that they are to be executed on the spot when captured. Sounds like a solid approach to me.

Posted by: maddirishman at November 24, 2009 4:53 PM

Nazi Germany was a governmental state, with all the obligations and privileges of a state. Nazi Germany engaged in acts of war, as commonly understood in the community of nations, not just warlike acts like bombing a building.

Beyond dumb. Is it your contention that agents acting for a nation in conflict should be afforded military tribunals but illegal combatants deserve American courts? How in hell do you come up with this stuff?

Posted by: spongeworthy at November 24, 2009 5:06 PM

And not only that but the Nazis were charged with the massacre in the Katyn Forest, something the Soviets had done.

Posted by: Fred at November 26, 2009 8:59 AM

And not only that but the Nazis were charged with the massacre in the Katyn Forest, something the Soviets had done.

Posted by: Fred at November 26, 2009 9:00 AM

"An organization like Al Qaeda, with international reach and funding, with support from sovereign states, with scores of trained operatives, is an entirely different level of threat [than McVey and Nichols.]" Agreed.

But, a nation with the power to direct industrial production, create an army, navy and air force, the ability to take sovereignty over the land of other nations, etc. is anentirely different level of threat than Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda is more like McVey and Nichols than it is like Nazi Germany.

So, you made my point, which is that the Morrisey comaprison is apples and oranges.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Posted by: magrooder at November 26, 2009 3:15 PM

Vatican City, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, and dozens of small islands are sovereign countries. Do you not think that Al Quaeda has significantly more resources, military potential and desire and ability to engage in operations than those countries???

Posted by: dch at November 27, 2009 12:27 AM

So does the mafia. Was Gotti a terrorist, or a criminal?

Posted by: magrooder at November 28, 2009 11:59 AM

I would agree that there is a heirarchy of threats, which to generalize would look like this:

1. Nation-state
2. State-supported terrorist group
3. Non-state-supported terrorist group
4. Organized crime
5. Individual terrorist
6. Individual criminal

(Obviously, in some cases #5 may trump #4)

The point Magrooder is deliberately missing is the nature of asymmetrical warfare: we have other ways of holding states accountable - they have territory, fixed military and economic assets, etc. We take different measures against terror groups because the nature of the threat they present is different.

Anyway, it appears we all agree here that the argument Morrissey was knocking down was a stupid one.

Posted by: Crank at November 28, 2009 11:53 PM

In general, I agree with your hierarchy, though the line between #2 and #3 can often be difficult to measure. I would also argue that there are cases in which the state support (#2) is so substantial that the situation is tantamount to case #1.

My difference is where we draw the line between war (always #1 and often #2) and crimes (always # 4, 5 and 6 and sometimes #2). I also think there are distinctions among the detainees (those captured in combat and those who plot and/or carryout acts of terrorism, for example). Finally, I thik that while many detainees could lawfully be tried under either civilain courts or military tribunals, there are other values that inform the choice.

Posted by: magrooder at November 29, 2009 4:46 PM
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