After the news stories broke last week that Seymour Hersh would be publishing a story about a death squad that reported directly to Dick Cheney, we sat back and waited for a tsunami of editorials decrying the appearance of the final link in the chain of similarities between the Nazis and the Bush Junta.
When the story about U. S. actions at Abu Ghraib Prison first broke, back when many U. S. newspapers had large staffs and would have had the resources to check for any relevant editorials from the Nuremberg trial era, did any one of them, some, or none; bother to check to see if any of the rules, which America helped establish, had been broken? Were the ones who remained silent giving their tacit approval to whatever happened?
Were there any editorials at the time of the Nuremberg War Crime Trials denouncing the moral turpitude of the members of the German Military who carried out the heinous atrocities committed to please the Fuhrer?
Should American journalists have established any differences between the two countries' actions, to eliminate any possible misperception prevalent at that time?
Didn't Americans, in the post WWII period, revel in their righteous indignation knowing that American troops would never (ever) resort to the methods of interrogation used by the Geheime Staatspolizei?
Didn't the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, establish the principle that the German troops (as did all soldiers around the world) had a moral obligation to refuse to follow orders to commit atrocities?
Wouldn't the legal principle that silence implies consent mean that if (speculation alert!) President George W. Bush is ever convicted of war crimes, then the American troops who remained silent were guilty of violating the principles established at Nuremberg? Wouldn't it also mean that when the allegedly pro-Liberal mainstream media remained silent, they were giving their consent for what happened? Wouldn't it also mean that members of the clergy in America were also giving their consent?
If the legal axiom that silence implies consent is valid, and if Bush is ever convicted, then some people who expressed patriotic enthusiasm for what was happening, would then have some need for confession and contrition, if they also have endorsed the principles established at Nuremberg.
If President Bush's authorization of extreme questioning methods was not prohibited by the rules established at Nuremberg, then shouldn't a Congressional investigation be held to clear up any doubt and misconceptions about what he knew, sanctioned, and ordered?
Ordinary citizens who want to establish that Americans did not consent to any violations of the Nuremberg rules of military conduct during war: write to your congressional representative and your two Senators and urge that a preliminary inquiry be conducted so that at least from this point forward, each citizen will know that he or she didn't hide behind a "go along to get along" attitude that was the same as consent by silence endorsement of any possible Bush violations of the rules of war.
Readers can speak up now, by forwarding this column to various well known (bur curiously silent about the death squads) journalists and ask them to reveal their philosophy about what President George W. Bush did and didn't do or they can continue to remain silent.
Robert Benchley said: "Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing. "
Now, the disk jockey will play Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" and we will quietly sneak out of here. Have a (Silence is) Golden week.