In his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Leon Panetta, Obama’s pick for the CIA directorship, “said there is no intention to hold CIA officers responsible for the policies they were told to carry out. CIA interrogators who used waterboarding or other harsh techniques against prisoners with the permission of the White House should not be prosecuted.” (Pamela Hess, “Panetta: Obama won’t ok ‘extraordinary rendition,’” The Daily Transcript, February 5, 2009.)
"Individuals, “ Panetta said, “who operated pursuant to a legal opinion that indicated that that was proper and legal ought not to be prosecuted or investigated."
This declaration echoes what Eric Holder, the new U.S. Attorney General said in his Senate confirmation testimony: ‘[W]here it is clear that a government agent has acted in ‘reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full-blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.”
As I pointed out recently, legal memos from the likes of sycophantic lawyers such as John Yoo and Jay Bybee saying that the president could order a child’s testicles to be crushed if it was in the defense of America, are as weighty legally as fairy dust.
The Nuremberg verdict on Nazi war criminals - whose excuse was that they were “only following orders” – was, as everyone knows or should know, that “following orders” is no defense.
Barack Obama is a constitutional lawyer who has no doubt heard of Nuremberg. Eric Holder is now the chief legal officer of the United States. Leon Panetta is likely going to be the new CIA Director.
These men want Americans to believe that “following orders” to commit crimes against humanity entitles those who did this to get off scot-free for their heinous acts.
This is “change we can believe in”?