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American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes

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No subject is more hotly debated than the extreme measures that our government has taken after 9/11 in the name of national security. Torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, secret detention centers (or “black sites”), massive surveillance of citizens. But while the press occasionally exposes the dark side of the war on terror and congressional investigator No subject is more hotly debated than the extreme measures that our government has taken after 9/11 in the name of national security. Torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, secret detention centers (or “black sites”), massive surveillance of citizens. But while the press occasionally exposes the dark side of the war on terror and congressional investigators sometimes raise alarms about the abuses committed by U.S. intelligence agencies and armed forces, no high U.S. official has been prosecuted for these violations – which many legal observers around the world consider war crimes. The United States helped establish the international principles guiding the prosecution of war crimes – starting with the Nuremberg tribunal following World War II, when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and legal system have consistently refused to apply these same principles to our own officials. Now Rebecca Gordon takes on the explosive task of “indicting” the officials who – in a just society – should be put on trial for war crimes. Some might dismiss this as a symbolic exercise. But what is at stake here is the very soul of the nation.


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No subject is more hotly debated than the extreme measures that our government has taken after 9/11 in the name of national security. Torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, secret detention centers (or “black sites”), massive surveillance of citizens. But while the press occasionally exposes the dark side of the war on terror and congressional investigator No subject is more hotly debated than the extreme measures that our government has taken after 9/11 in the name of national security. Torture, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, secret detention centers (or “black sites”), massive surveillance of citizens. But while the press occasionally exposes the dark side of the war on terror and congressional investigators sometimes raise alarms about the abuses committed by U.S. intelligence agencies and armed forces, no high U.S. official has been prosecuted for these violations – which many legal observers around the world consider war crimes. The United States helped establish the international principles guiding the prosecution of war crimes – starting with the Nuremberg tribunal following World War II, when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and legal system have consistently refused to apply these same principles to our own officials. Now Rebecca Gordon takes on the explosive task of “indicting” the officials who – in a just society – should be put on trial for war crimes. Some might dismiss this as a symbolic exercise. But what is at stake here is the very soul of the nation.

30 review for American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    No matter how closely you have followed the political, military, and attitudinal fallout after September 11, 2001, you have never read such a concise, analytical, closely-sourced, and cogent overview as this. In clean, spare, unemotional prose, Rebecca Gordon examines how the stage for the Iraq war was set long before that catastrophe, as right-wing strategists plotted the demise of Saddam Hussein, admittedly a tyrant and a bully, in order to realign the Middle East in our favor - and Israel's. No matter how closely you have followed the political, military, and attitudinal fallout after September 11, 2001, you have never read such a concise, analytical, closely-sourced, and cogent overview as this. In clean, spare, unemotional prose, Rebecca Gordon examines how the stage for the Iraq war was set long before that catastrophe, as right-wing strategists plotted the demise of Saddam Hussein, admittedly a tyrant and a bully, in order to realign the Middle East in our favor - and Israel's. She traces how 9/11 changed how the United States justified and waged war, captured and tortured prisoners, lied and obfuscated in international forums, and misjudged how the war would change the dynamics of the Middle East, leaving no doubt about the way the war paved the way for the ongoing brutality of ISIS and the continued suffering of the civilians in its path. Before examining 9/11, however, Gordon examines the history, philosophies, and history of war crimes, including details about the Nuremberg Trials that may be new to the reader, and may have foreshadowed how the United States would proceed. Early on, for example, both Churchill and FDR wanted to execute the accused without trials; Stalin insisted on trials to establish the legitimacy of the executions. Questions were raised about whether Allied countries that had used fire bombs and atomic bombs on civilians had the moral standing to judge Germany. And the United States fretted about alienating Germany, which was seen as an ally against communism and the USSR. The trials were held, but with unusual rules of evidence and procedure that may have been foreshadowings of how the United States would capture, judge, and indefinitely imprison "enemy combatants." Gordon argues that rules of evidence, reasons for just war, treatment of prisoners, and the definition of torture slid neatly under George Bush's "new paradigm" after the horrors of 9/11. Our own laws (such as the War Crimes Act of 1996) were ignored, as was our signature on many of the Geneva Conventions (which are defined and explored thoroughly). How else could 180 prisoners suffocate in a shipping container on their way to a camp headed by United States Special Forces? Why would the head of the CIA be upset to hear that a White House spokesman had said that detainees were being treated humanely? How could we justify having prisoners sent to countries where they were raped, or using white phosphorus on civilians and combatants alike? Why has the United States refused to sign the portion of the Conventions that protects civilian medical personnel in armed conflicts? Some of the details of how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been waged (closely sourced, with authoritative, comprehensive footnotes and bibliographical references) that Gordon relates go beyond venal and sordid, beyond the horrors that any war creates. The actions and speeches reflect a widespread and disproportionate catastrophe, one that continues with every fleeing refugee and barbaric ISIS attack. So what can we do, Gordon asks? Clearly, the officials and strategists, named and charted with great specificity, will never be tried as war criminals. The government of the United States does not even recognize the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even more damning is her well-documented conclusion: "In the name of security, we have been terrorized by our own government... into giving up not only our own freedoms but our fundamental sense of human empathy." That lack of empathy is the key to what we can do, says Gordon. We might take our cue from the government of South Africa, which created the Truth and Reconciliation process to acknowledge, with openness and truth, what had been done during the dreadful years of apartheid. Perhaps such an assembly could be convened here. Truth is what the United States owes to all of the victims of the wars in Iraq and its sequelae. In an ideal world, she says, we would end our use of torture, implement United Nations and Geneva Conventions, hold accountable the architects, and join the other 124 countries who are parties to the ICC. Working towards these goals would constitute the beginning of a true American Nuremberg. This is a powerful book. I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Naeem

    Rebecca Gordon's task is simple and bold. She wants to create a Nuremberg type of tribunal to indict U.S. policy in the (so called) war on terror. After a chapter on the original Nuremberg, she explains various international laws and their violation by the U.S. under the following headings (each is a chapter): crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against human rights. The argument is not merely abstract. She provides details of various violations/crimes. And at the end of each chapter, s Rebecca Gordon's task is simple and bold. She wants to create a Nuremberg type of tribunal to indict U.S. policy in the (so called) war on terror. After a chapter on the original Nuremberg, she explains various international laws and their violation by the U.S. under the following headings (each is a chapter): crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against human rights. The argument is not merely abstract. She provides details of various violations/crimes. And at the end of each chapter, she is fearless in providing names of those who should be indicted. Then, at the end of the book, she selects the top 22 officials who most deserve to be prosecuted. Two presidents are included (W and O). Gordon knows no such trials will ever take place. But she references the Russell Tribunal, which wikipedia describes in this way: "International War Crimes Tribunal or Russell-Sartre Tribunal, was a private body organized by British philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell and hosted by French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre....the tribunal investigated and evaluated American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam." Gordon wants to create such an event for the current U.S. policies. Perhaps the flaw in the book is that she presents U.S. policy makers as malevolent. In contrast, I think the greater danger they pose is in seeing themselves as benevolent, as saviors, as re-makers of the world. They know what is best for the U.S. and for the world and they believe they have the responsibility to execute plans that realize their knowledge. It is just pedagogy. But while such a push would have taken the book towards greater thoughtfulness, it might have detracted from Gordon's polemic. Her desire to create a tribunal to put U.S. policy makers on trial is brave, bold, and inviting. I can see how creating such an event would be meaningful.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Helen

    Dr. Rebecca Gordon is an expert on torture, particularly as perpetrated by the United States. "American Nuremberg" points out that our so-called war on terror is not truly a war. And if it were, the US would be compelled to follow the rules of the Geneva Convention. Gordon's book is thoroughly researched, and the information is then relayed to us in an accessible form. She begins with a history of the post-World War II Nuremberg tribunal, emphasizing the United States' role in bringing Nazi war Dr. Rebecca Gordon is an expert on torture, particularly as perpetrated by the United States. "American Nuremberg" points out that our so-called war on terror is not truly a war. And if it were, the US would be compelled to follow the rules of the Geneva Convention. Gordon's book is thoroughly researched, and the information is then relayed to us in an accessible form. She begins with a history of the post-World War II Nuremberg tribunal, emphasizing the United States' role in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice and describing the principles on which the tribunals were based. Dr. Gordon gives us a review of international treaties that form the basis for how nations hold each other accountable, including the UN Convention Against Torture. She tells us that laws of the US apply here as well. There are federal laws already on the books that delineate what actions constitute war crimes, and how we are supposed to treat detainees. "American Nuremburg" shows us the horrors of torture, and urges us to do something about it. Gordon gives us historical precedents like the Russell Tribunal and the South African Truth and Reconciliation process, and she urges us to create our own tribunal. By so doing, we would "acknowledge the wrong and mark the beginning of justice." This is an actual call to action for anyone interested in for anyone interested in maintaining democracy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    THIS. Rarely does an author mirror my thinking on a subject so precisely, but Rebecca Gordon sums up 100% of my opinions on the matters she tackles in this book, and she does it more eloquently and incisively than I possibly could. Quite simply put, I emphatically agree with every single word written in this volume. Now, where do I sign to put this woman in charge of, say, the entire fucking world?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Breanna Zimmer

    Such an important book We have a new administration since this was published and instead of ending the war on terror and to american war crimes, we add more names to the list of war criminals. Americans are numb to it and with every war crime and crime against humanity, more enemies are created. Sadly, justice will probably never be served to the victims of the war crimes. This book has a great format of explaining the crimes committed and adding a table of a list of government criminals who shou Such an important book We have a new administration since this was published and instead of ending the war on terror and to american war crimes, we add more names to the list of war criminals. Americans are numb to it and with every war crime and crime against humanity, more enemies are created. Sadly, justice will probably never be served to the victims of the war crimes. This book has a great format of explaining the crimes committed and adding a table of a list of government criminals who should be tried for war crimes. Recommend to everyone!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    How many Americans know that after WWII, Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to simply execute the Nazi leaders and it was Stalin the dictator who insisted on trials? He argued “that such procedures were necessary to establish a sense of legitimacy in the eyes of world.” The job of the Nuremberg Trials was to “substitute the rule of law for the rule of force.” “Nuremberg Principles declare that actions that violate international law are punishable crimes, regardless of whether those actions happen to How many Americans know that after WWII, Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to simply execute the Nazi leaders and it was Stalin the dictator who insisted on trials? He argued “that such procedures were necessary to establish a sense of legitimacy in the eyes of world.” The job of the Nuremberg Trials was to “substitute the rule of law for the rule of force.” “Nuremberg Principles declare that actions that violate international law are punishable crimes, regardless of whether those actions happen to violate domestic laws.” No one is immune from prosecution, not even a President or someone killing under some else’s orders. The United States “insisted on including the crime of ‘waging a war of aggression’ and placing it at the head of the list.” That’s funny because the United States has been waging clear wars of aggression for decades to complete media silence about the obvious Nuremberg violations. Did you know that “The moment the United States ratified the Geneva Accords, they became the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the Constitution”? Obama is supposed to be a constitutional lawyer who promised under oath to respect the constitution, and thus the Geneva Accords, but check out what Andrew Sullivan said: “Obama and attorney-general Eric Holder have decided to remain in breach of the Geneva Conventions and be complicit themselves in covering up the war crimes of their predecessors - which means, of course, that those of us who fought for Obama's election precisely because we wanted a return to the rule of law were conned. Obama is a clear and knowing accessory to war crimes, and should at some point face prosecution as well, if the Geneva Conventions mean anything anymore." The author looks at the concept of preemptive attack under Bush in 2003 and legally muses that given that Iraq knew the US was going to attack it, “would Iraq have been justified (assuming it had the capacity) in attacking the United States?” This book goes deeply into all the different kinds of war crimes our country has been up to and the laws broken. It discusses how when we killed civilians in Fallujah with white phosphorus that violated the 1996 War Crimes Act, and discusses how when we do other stuff it might instead be violation of this or that international law or the Geneva Convention. “If the war on terror is not a war, then the United States had no legal right to kill one of its citizens, such as Anwar –al –Awlaki, without a trial.” Killing without due process, is murder. Nuremberg was a great idea however, “hardly had the last guilty German been sentenced than the Tribunal vanished and no one heard from it again.” The Tribunal showed the world how it needed ‘international jurisdiction’ over matters of war. The book’s author wants a new Russell Tribunal, an American Nuremberg, or some form of accountability for the war machine, the rogue state. Now with Trump poised to become President, we will need this Tribunal that Rebecca requests even more…

  7. 5 out of 5

    Milele

    The many distinct arguments made by this book for trials and investigations are overwhelming. Two in particular stand out. - The CIA ironically forced there to be a record of clear orders regarding torture. I interpreted this as the CIA director being worried in part about committing war crimes, but even more so of being scapegoated for exceeding orders by political leaders who would prefer to maintain deniability. That's because for many years the US government has made it quite clear no US of The many distinct arguments made by this book for trials and investigations are overwhelming. Two in particular stand out. - The CIA ironically forced there to be a record of clear orders regarding torture. I interpreted this as the CIA director being worried in part about committing war crimes, but even more so of being scapegoated for exceeding orders by political leaders who would prefer to maintain deniability. That's because for many years the US government has made it quite clear no US official will be put under foreign or international scrutiny, or even get in trouble for any treatment of suspected terrorists, as long as those officials are following orders. - It was horrifying to see how mistakes and mis-characterizations (of Zubaydah as an Al-Qaeda leader, for example) were blown up at every level to justify a prisoner's treatment. Seeing the cycle of torture leading to incrimination justifying the torture, laid out so clearly, was again an overwhelming indictment of the system. These two examples not only provide facts about the use of torture, but also facts about how consequences for torture and other war crimes are desperately needed. These are not compulsive or impulsive actions taken without regard to consequences, these are careful decisions by men and women who consider the personal as well as the national and international consequences. I felt this book was strongest in its very direct fact listing, naming and shaming and especially the call to action. While Gordon proposes some actions for the US government to take, which it in all likelihood will not, she also calls on readers to begin a public review, an action which is entirely possible for a group of citizens to do. Even though it will not directly lead to federal or international trials, public accountability can push future military, CIA and political leaders to greater caution. The first part of the book is technically difficult to read and follow because there are many different international treaties which may apply to the activities being considered as possible crimes. Worse, not all treaties have been ratified by the US. Navigating these complex rules is greatly aided by the book's conciseness, direct language and clear organization, but the reader's intellect and analysis must still be applied. The latter parts of the book are emotionally difficult to read and digest. I did find myself wishing for some examination of the other side of some arguments. Are there no activities under question as war crimes or internationally criticized, which Gordon can conclude are not war crimes? Is there no argument supporting the US reluctance to sign onto international treaties or participate in international courts? As a result, my beliefs that already coincided with Gordon's were strengthened, while my doubts were left mostly untouched.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Raymond

    In a speech delivered roughly around 1990, Noam Chomsky once stated “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” Rebecca Gordon seems to have written a book that covers just that thought experiment. Though not as far reaching in time as Chomsky’s statement would apply, she covers the extent of war crimes committed by American leaders in a post 9/11 world. Her ultimate indictment includes 22 names in the similar fashion of the 22 convictions In a speech delivered roughly around 1990, Noam Chomsky once stated “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” Rebecca Gordon seems to have written a book that covers just that thought experiment. Though not as far reaching in time as Chomsky’s statement would apply, she covers the extent of war crimes committed by American leaders in a post 9/11 world. Her ultimate indictment includes 22 names in the similar fashion of the 22 convictions of the Nuremberg trials. This thought experiment is morally instructive and engaging, diving through report after report, providing example after example on the subject of enhanced interrogation techniques (a euphemism for torture), extraordinary rendition (kidnapping), and assassination performed mainly under the instruction of the CIA. Gordon attempts to construct a legal framework while providing what members of the Bush and Obama administrations might have countered in return to such charges. American Nuremberg does draw from both international and domestic law citing primarily from the Geneva conventions (for international humanitarian law), and the 1996 war crimes act. The excruciating detail brought to the fore by Gordon is appropriately shocking for those who have not read into the subject of torture prior to reading this book. The use of white phosphorous in the siege of Fallujah was particularly alarming but delivers one of Gordon’s best lines in the book. “It is perhaps particularly ironic that the United States should invade Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, only to employ its own chemical weapons against Iraqis.” A quick read worthy of consideration regarding American intervention in the Middle East.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Arta

    Rebecca Gordon really lays out the case for trying Bush and Obama administrations for the various crimes against the world. This was a difficult read at times, but ended on a beautiful note, the possibility of a better America working towards a better world, free from the bonds of cowardice. I have nothing but the purest vitriolic hatred for Bush and Obama administration officials as well as the military commanders who all approved of the violation of due process law and torture. But in order to Rebecca Gordon really lays out the case for trying Bush and Obama administrations for the various crimes against the world. This was a difficult read at times, but ended on a beautiful note, the possibility of a better America working towards a better world, free from the bonds of cowardice. I have nothing but the purest vitriolic hatred for Bush and Obama administration officials as well as the military commanders who all approved of the violation of due process law and torture. But in order to even approach the possibility of justice, we have to do so from a place of love for those affected, and she talks about this. Rebecca Gordon documents in painful detail exactly what injustices were carried out and what the charges would be, and what the case for prosecution would look like. (Casually, moderate) death to America, frankly

  10. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    More like 3.5 stars. Really interesting. I like the premise a lot. Learned a lot. Frustrated with some things. Very brief narrative about the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. I wanted something with more detail. In the past, the lack of footnotes and limited sources for a book bothered me, but I think it is actually problematic when discussing these topics. It is easy to read entire paragraphs citing examples in quotes without a source......... I need to write more about this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Gordon lays out the case for specific war crimes/crimes against humanity (including violations of both International Law and U.S. law) for members of the three Presidential adminstrations prior to Trump's in their launching and continuing the war on terror. The book was published in 2016, or Trump and members of his adminstration would surely have been included. Gordon lays out the case for specific war crimes/crimes against humanity (including violations of both International Law and U.S. law) for members of the three Presidential adminstrations prior to Trump's in their launching and continuing the war on terror. The book was published in 2016, or Trump and members of his adminstration would surely have been included.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Maxwell

    Has the US government gone to far since 9/11? The author, an American, definitely believes so. She is convinced that at least 3 former presidents and a score of secretaries and aides should be charged with war crimes. A riveting read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    In "American Nuremberg" Rebecca Gordon takes one on a wild journey through the actions of the US Government, its officials and its agencies in conducting the war on terror. (She points out that it is really not a war in the strictest sense.) Laying the groundwork by examining in detail the post WWII Nuremberg trials, Gordon takes the reader through a detailed, well executed, understandable tutorial on what international law and conventions, treaties, and US law have to say about what constitutes In "American Nuremberg" Rebecca Gordon takes one on a wild journey through the actions of the US Government, its officials and its agencies in conducting the war on terror. (She points out that it is really not a war in the strictest sense.) Laying the groundwork by examining in detail the post WWII Nuremberg trials, Gordon takes the reader through a detailed, well executed, understandable tutorial on what international law and conventions, treaties, and US law have to say about what constitutes war crimes, crimes against peace and human rights crimes. She then examines in detail US violations of these laws in Iraq and Afghanistan where actual war has existed and in other parts of the world where there has been no war in the conventional sense. She lists by name US officials and military officers who have been in violation. And finally she suggests a possible solution - a grassroots American Nuremberg. Many of the atrocities outlined in the book were not new to me. These occurred during the Bush administration and have been exposed through the media on many occasions. I was, however, shocked to learn the extent to which many of these practices started with the Clinton administration and then continued with Obama. I have seen Obama interviewed when he has lowered his eyes and said what a hard job it is to order drone strikes. I had no idea the extent to which these occur and the number of people killed. This brief book is a definite call to action and one which every American should read. Gordon has done her research. The book is carefully footnoted; there is an extensive bibliography and a real index. Written by an academic, the book is nonetheless totally accessible to the general public. It is well thought out and organized and articulated in such a way that makes it readable and easily understood. I found it a compelling read and after the first chapter which outlines the treaties and laws, I had a hard time putting it down. There is no doubt about Gordon's position on these matters and for the most part I was fine with that but every now and again I wished for slightly more objectivity. But that was not what this books is about and I really want to thank the author for an eye-opening, thought provoking book. Thanks to the author for an advanced review copy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I believe it is factual and sadly describes much of what has gone wrong with our country since 9/11. Rebecca Gordon is a dedicated researcher and has written a very powerful expose.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sabine

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steff

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nazeer Khan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Urban

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fred Nicholson

  21. 4 out of 5

    F. Kovits

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Fisher

  23. 4 out of 5

    Odowalt

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

  25. 4 out of 5

    precaffeinated

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Book

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leroi

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Kubista

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Katz

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew McLain

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