Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Different Concept of Xenophobia

Philippe Sands article in Vanity Fair, The Green Light, is a fascinating read from which many details of the growth of the war criminal class in the United States can be discovered. For me, the final paragraph contains the hidden angst that must infect the architects of the Guantanamo torture camps. They can never leave the country without fear of arrest for their violations of international law.

There have been examples of people, Augusto Pinochet is one, who have been arrested and tried outside their homelands for crimes against humanity. Crimes for which they had received immunity from prosecution at home. Not just George Bush, whose protected under diplomatic immunity expires on January 20, 2009, and Donald Rumsfeld are at risk. The soldiers who committed the tortures, the lawyers who facilitated the crimes by crafting artful exclusions from both American and International law are at risk as well. John Yoo, for example, might be attending an international symposium in Helsinki some day in the future and be awakened early one morning by a gentle knocking on his hotel door. He is under arrest, a uniformed man explains, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These are prominent people used to having the run of the free world. Yet now and for the rest of their lives whenever they pull out their passports they will have to think. Is it safe to travel to Helsinki, or Paris, or Beijing? Will this trip be my last? Will the time finally come when I will have to pay for my part in the obscene treatment of prisoners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay? Fear of foreigners indeed.

Photo is of the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

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