US Journalists & War-Crime Guilt
By Peter Dyer
October 15, 2008
Editor's Note: This year, the U.S. news media cheered the opening of the $450 million Newseum in Washington, a self-congratulatory celebration of American journalism.
However, rather than giving themselves that expensive pat on the back, the major U.S. media organizations might have done something to show remorse for their complicity in the Bush administration's propaganda that justified the invasion of Iraq.
As freelance journalist Peter Dyer notes, prosecutors at the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed such journalistic support for war crimes to be a capital offense:
October 16 is an anniversary that should hold considerable interest for American journalists who have written in support of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Sixty-two years ago, on Oct. 16, 1946, Julius Streicher was hanged.
Streicher was one of a group of 10 Germans executed that day following the judgment of the first Nuremberg Trial -- a 40-week trial of 22 of the most prominent Nazis.
Each was tried for two or more of the four
crimes defined in the Nuremberg Charter: crimes against peace
(aggression), war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy.
All who were sentenced to death were major German government officials or military leaders. Except for Streicher.
Julius Streicher was a journalist.
Editor of the vehemently anti-Semitic newspaper Der Sturmer, Streicher was convicted of, in the words of the judgment, "incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitut(ing) " a crime against humanity."
Presenting the case against Streicher, British prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel M.C. Griffith-Jones said: "My Lord, it may be that this defendant is less directly involved in the physical commission of the crimes against Jews. ... The submission of the Prosecution is that his crime is no less the worse " that he made these things possible -- made these crimes possible which could never have happened had it not been for him and for those like him. He led the propaganda and the education of the German people in those ways."
The critical role of propaganda was
affirmed at Nuremberg not only by the prosecution and in the judgment
but also in the testimony of the most prominent Nazi defendant,
Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering:
"Modern and total war develops, as I see it, along three lines: the war of weapons on land, at sea and in the air; economic war, which has become an integral part of every modern war; and, third, propaganda war, which is also an essential part of this warfare."