Tyranny at Nuremberg, by Paul Craig Roberts

Nuremberg was more show trial than a judicial procedure that comported with the prevailing standards of justice. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

The showtrial of a somewhat arbitrarily selected group of 21 surviving Nazis at Nuremberg during 1945-46 was US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson’s show. Jackson was the chief prosecutor. As a long-time admirer of Jackson, I always assumed that he did a good job.

My admiration for Jackson stems from his defense of law as a shield of the people rather than a weapon in the hands of government, and from his defense of the legal principle known as mens rea, that is, that crime requires intent. I often cite Jackson for his defense of these legal principles that are the very foundation of liberty. Indeed, I cited Jackson in my recent July 31 column. His defense of law as a check on government power plays a central role in the book that I wrote with Lawrence Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

In 1940 Jackson was US Attorney General. He addressed federal prosecutors and warned them against “picking the man and then putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense—that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views or being personally obnoxious to, or in the way of, the prosecutor himself.”

Later as a Supreme Court justice Jackson overturned a lower court conviction of a person who had no idea, or any reason to believe, that he had committed a crime.

Having just finished reading David Irving’s book Nuremberg (1996), I am devastated to learn that in his pursuit of another principle, at Nuremberg Jackson violated all of the legal principles for which I have so long admired him. To be clear, at Nuremberg Jackson was in pursuit of Nazis, but their conviction was the means to his end—the establishment of the international legal principle that the initiation of war, the commitment of military aggression, was a crime.

The problem, of course, was that at Nuremberg people were tried on the basis of ex post facto law—law that did not exist at the time of their actions for which they were convicted.

To continue reading: Tyranny at Nuremberg

 

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