American war crimes

On Wednesday, May 12, 2004 News are published on the web by CNN that The U.S. Army private facing a court- martial for being photographed with naked Iraqi prisoners says she was following orders to create psychological pressure on them.

"...following orders..." That sounds remarkable similar to the defense for crimes against humanity or war crimes used by many accused Nazi war criminals in the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

I therefore decided to do some research. It was realtively easy to find pages conserning the Nuremberg trials.

What should the United States do with these - their own - war criminals?

Let us make some excerpts from earlier days...

 Charter of the International Military Tribunal

*August 8, 1945*


In pursuance of the Agreement signed on the 8th day of August 1945 by the Government of the United States of America, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, there shall be established an International Military Tribunal (hereafter called "the Tribunal") for the just and prompt trial and punishment of major war criminals of the
European Axis.

... or the American Bush administration.


The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of    international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the  foregoing;
(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. 
Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder,
ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination,
enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war,14 or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

Leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.

George W. Bush and the British Prime Minister could probably be indicted according to article 6 subsection A.


The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.


The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determine that justice so requires.

I understand that "following orders" was not accepted as a defence in the Nuremberg trials.


Any person convicted by the Tribunal may be charged before a national, military, or occupation court, referred to in Article 10 of this Charter, with a crime other than of membership in a criminal group or organization and such court may, after convicting him, impose upon him punishment independent of and additional to the punishment imposed by the Tribunal for participation in the criminal activities of suchgroup or organization....

Further comments are unnecessary.

Count Four: Crimes Against Humanity

This count involved the actions in concentration camps and other death rampages.

Further comments are unnecessary.

Let us then see at a few examples at the Nuremberg trials.

    Alfred Jodl>

Count I:            Indicted            Guilty
Count II:           Indicted            Guilty
Count III:         Indicted            Guilty
Count IV:         Indicted           Guilty

Sentenced to:    Death by hanging

His defense was that he was an obedient soldier, signing orders only as a command from Hitler.  This was not a defense allowed under Article Eight of the Charter, however, and no other mitigation evidence could be offered.

Alfred Jodl, like Pfc. Lynndie England, claimed he only followed orders. Not accepted by the internationl tribunal in the Nuremberg trials. It should not be accepted today either. Although England has probably not murdered she has committed war crimes as defined according to the ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT.

  Wilhelm Keitel>

Count I:            Indicted            Guilty
Count II:           Indicted            Guilty
Count III:         Indicted            Guilty
Count IV:         Indicted            Guilty

Sentenced to:    Death by hanging

There was no mitigation evidence to be heard, and his defense that he was just following orders as a soldier is not valid under the Charter.
Keitel and Jodl were soldiers. So is Lynndie England.

  Arthur Seyss-Inquart>

Count I:            Indicted            Not Guilty
Count II:           Indicted            Guilty
Count III:         Indicted            Guilty
Count IV:         Indicted            Guilty

Sentenced to:    Death by hanging

As did many of the defendants, Seyss-Inquart used as a defense the idea that he only followed orders from above.

"As did many of the defendants". Was not "following orders" what almost any indicted guard in any Nazi Concentration camp used as a defence for their actions?

Lynndie England has in fact no defence. That she followed orders is by an international agreement signed by the United States not acceptable as a defence for warcrimes.

where it is clearly laid out what is considered as war crime or crime against humanity today, some 60 years after the Nuremberg trials. I understand that the US have however have refused to accept this court. Is it because they want to let their own war criminals go unpunished??

Ingmar Forne

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Author`s name Evgeniya Petrova