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Rumsfeld Should Be Indicted

By Mahmood Khattak

21 November, 2006

In the last fortnight or so a lot has happened in the world: Saddam Hussein, after an unfair trial, was sentenced to death for ordering the murder of 182 Kurds; The balance of the US Congress swung back the Democrats' way; and Donald Rumsfeld resigned as the defence secretary.

"Rummy" was one of the main people behind the wars that have now gotten United States nowhere, and have made the world an even dangerous place to live. In order to wipe out "terrorism", he went beyond the wildest dreams of any terrorist: secret renditions, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, you name it. The list is long.

In doing so he also trampled upon the most cherished of all intangibles: human rights. Many of the human rights have argued that he should be tried for all the torture committed under his watch. The question is: should he be absolved of all the war crimes that were committed by the allied forces while he was at the helm of the affairs?

One organization has asked that he should be tried for that. The center for constitutional rights (CCR) has filed a 220-page document with a court in Germany. According to the group, Rumsfeld "personally approved torture as means of interrogation." An ex-US Army Brigadier General, Janis Karpinski, will testify against her former boss.

Most of the people defending Rumsfeld would take the alibi that he was not personally torturing those people. They'd argue that he should not be charged; only the individuals that tortured those detainees should be charged.

This excuse is the lamest that one can get too. Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for killing 182 people, even though he did not pull the trigger himself. Hitler did not kill all the six million Jews in Holocaust himself. Both the men above are held responsible for those crimes because they authorized it. So authorization became synonymous in that context with committing the real crime.

And Rumsfeld authorized the tortures too. The documents filed by the Human Rights organizations have shown that. Shouldn't Rummy be charged in the same spirit then? Or the rules of Justice change from person to person? What Rummy did was both against the domestic law and the international conventions. It was illegal as well as unethical.

Besides, since the authority all the way went to Rumsfeld, he will be held responsible for all the acts that were committed under his watch. Just like a captain he is to blame when something went wrong, whether he knew about it or not.

It is very doubtful that Rummy will go to jail for those crimes. But it wont be meaningless to indict him. Posterity will already know him as one of the most incompetent US defence secretary of all time. His indictment will add a feather of infamy to his cap.


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