This guy should know.
The U.S. war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo have betrayed the principles of fairness that made the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg a judicial landmark, one of the U.S. Nuremberg prosecutors said on Monday.
“I think Robert Jackson, who’s the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo,” Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr. told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they’re doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”
King, 88, served under Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was the chief prosecutor at the trials created by the Allied powers to try Nazi military and political leaders after World War Two in Nuremberg, Germany.
“The concept of a fair trial is part of our tradition, our heritage,” King said from Ohio, where he lives. “That’s what made Nuremberg so immortal — fairness, a presumption of innocence, adequate defense counsel, opportunities to see the documents that they’re being tried with.”
King, who interrogated Nuremberg defendant Albert Speer, was incredulous that the Guantanamo rules left open the possibility of using evidence obtained through coercion.
“To torture people and then you can bring evidence you obtained into court? Hearsay evidence is allowed? Some evidence is available to the prosecution and not to the defendants? This is a type of ‘justice’ that Jackson didn’t dream of,” King said.
He said the Guantanamo prisoners should be tried in the court-martial system or the U.S. federal courts, under fair rules that leave open the possibility of acquittal. Three Nuremberg defendants were acquitted, King noted.
The 2006 Military Commissions Act, which set revised rules for trying suspected terrorists at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “sort of turns its back on Nuremberg,” King said. “I don’t think it’s a credit to us to have this thing.”
“The United States has always stood for fairness. That’s the important thing. We were the ones who started war crimes tribunals and we’re the architects. I don’t think we should turn our back on that architecture.”