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Commentary Last Updated: Apr 17th, 2009 - 00:24:59

What will they tell the children?
By Bev Conover
Online Journal Editor & Publisher

Apr 17, 2009, 00:19

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Back when right-wingers were all atwitter over a stained blue dress, blowjobs in the Oval Office and what Bill and Monica did with a cigar, they beat their breasts and wailed, �What do we tell the children?�

Well, what will they tell the children now that Barack Obama has decreed that the CIA operatives who tortured helpless prisoners won�t be prosecuted? A crime far worse than a previous president�s sexual peccadilloes.

How will Barack and Michelle explain to Malia and Sasha Daddy�s blowing off the CIA operatives� crimes with �they were just following orders�?

Wasn�t former suspected Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk just following orders, too? Yet, US immigration officials are bent on sending the 89-year-old Demjanjuk, despite his ill health, to Germany to stand trial.

What makes Demjanjuk different from the CIA operatives who were �just following orders� when they tortured prisoners? Is it that he is alleged to be an accessory to the murder of some 29,000 Jews, while the CIA operatives were torturing, in secret overseas prisons, just Muslims suspected of being �terrorists�?

Did we not hold war crimes trials in Germany and Japan after World War II? Did we not execute or imprison those judged guilty? Did we not sign and ratify the Geneva Conventions and a host of international laws that outlawed torture and crimes against humanity, doing away with the �I was just following orders� defense?

If a lowly foot soldier is expected to refuse to carry out an unlawful order -- at great risk to his or her very life -- issued by his or her commanding officer, what makes a CIA operative any different? Any person with a modicum of morality and a slight degree of intelligence knows right from wrong, regardless of the claims of his or her superior.

Morality and intelligence seem to be in short supply these days. We�re drowning in corruption and greed, and it�s not for a lack of religion. It seems the more religion we have, the worse things become.

Imagine, the president of the United States, rather the demanding all the criminals in the previous administration be held to account, says that �it�s time for reflection, not retribution.� What does that say to Malia, Sasha, all the other children and the rest of us?

How can we claim to be a nation of laws and not men if we fail to bring the lawbreakers before the bar of justice? How is doing so retribution? And how will reflection put things right?

Barack Obama promised the American people change. So far, we�ve seen little of it, other than a crumb here and a crumb there.

What does it say to the children when war criminals go unpunished? When banksters and Wall Street that devised convoluted ways to steal the people blind, destroying the economy in the process, not only go unpunished but are rewarded with trillions of taxpayer dollars and then are tasked with fixing what they destroyed? It�s like asking the arsonist who burned down your house to rebuild it and hand you the bill.

So, President Obama, do we tell the children that big crimes pay -- not the petty stuff that lands people in prison, oftentimes for life? And that those who mastermind the crimes will receive the biggest rewards, while their peons who carry out the crimes can claim they were �just following orders� to escape �retribution�? Is that the message you wish to give Malia and Sasha?

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