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Lessons from Nuremberg

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The Attorney General has decided, albeit reluctantly, to go back on his word and allow KSM to be tried before a military tribunal.  The AG's furrowed brow consternation implies the relative undesirability of military tribunals compared to civilian trials.  This is both odd and unfortunate given, among many other things, his Department's deplorable record, most recently and prominently on display in the Ahmed Ghailani case, where the Department managed a conviction rate of 0.0035.

Well, whatever.  Why insist on success when we can have high-minded blather to soothe the fabulously hypocritical scolds in the "international community"  --  not that they could be soothed in any event.

The AG might do well to read today's op-ed in of all things the New York Times, titled "Lessons from Nuremberg."  The author is British journalist William Shawcross, son of Sir Hartley Shawcross, Britain's chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and Winston Churchill's attorney.  The whole piece is worth your time, but these two paragraphs were particularly striking:

The trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-defendants is of vital significance because it addresses not just a group of thugs but the enduring human phenomenon of evil. No two eras are the same, nor are the threats they face identical. But evil is eternal and re-invents itself in every age.

In the 1940s the world confronted and, with immense sacrifice, defeated the evil of fascism. The scale and the nature of the threat is different today but true menace -- from the attacks of 9/11 itself to the recent beheading of United Nations workers in Afghanistan simply because a Koran was burned in Florida -- lurks patient and opportunistic. It cannot be appeased any more than Hitler could be appeased.


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