The View From 1776

Moscow Show Trials Redux

Obama’s shameful campaign to criminalize officials in the Bush administration is reminiscent of Stalin’s purges of his opponents in 1936-38.

Through the office of Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama actively supported a witch-hunt aimed at destroying the careers of Bush administration attorneys who provided legal advice about the limits upon interrogating captured Islamic terrorists.  Hating President Bush wasn’t enough.  It was necessary figuratively to spill some blood.

Between 1936 and 1938 Stalin staged public trials of of Soviet military and political leaders whom he regarded as rivals.  All of the trials resulted in convictions and executions for alleged treason. 

American liberal-progressives at the time applauded the show trials as necessary to stop opposition to socialistic progress toward perfection of human nature and political society.  In fact, liberal-progressives continued to defend the trials until after the fall of the Soviet Union and revelation of KGB documents. 

The common good, an abstraction called “humanity,” as defined by Stalin or American intellectuals, always trumps individual rights.

Parenthetically, this appears to be Obama’s attitude as he renews the effort to force passage of National Socialistic Healthcare, in the face of voters’ revulsion.  Liberal-progressives, it seems, still believe fervently in the superiority of their own minds and in their right to rule the rest of us, precisely the mindset of liberal-progressives during the 1930s.

What became widely known only after the fall of the Soviet Union was that the Moscow show trials were staged in the same way as the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility’s attack against Bush administration lawyers.  There wasn’t even the pretense of objectivity.  Defendants were first judged guilty, then evidence was rigged to portray guilt, and exculpatory evidence was suppressed.

Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility is a direct descendant of the Stalin regime.

In the following op-ed article from the Wall Street Journal, one of Justice’s targets rebuts the Office of Professional Responsibility’s Moscow-show-trial tactics.


FEBRUARY 24, 2010
My Gift to the Obama Presidency
Though the White House won’t want to admit it, Bush lawyers were protecting the executive’s power to fight a vigorous war on terror.

Barack Obama may not realize it, but I may have just helped save his presidency. How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe.

He sure didn’t make it easy. When Mr. Obama took office a year ago, receiving help from one of the lawyers involved in the development of George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies was the furthest thing from his mind. Having won a great electoral victory, the new president promised a quick about-face. He rejected “as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” and moved to restore the law-enforcement system as the first line of defense against a hardened enemy devoted to killing Americans.

In office only one day, Mr. Obama ordered the shuttering of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, followed later by the announcement that he would bring terrorists to an Illinois prison. He terminated the Central Intelligence Agency’s ability to use “enhanced interrogations techniques” to question al Qaeda operatives. He stayed the military trial, approved by Congress, of al Qaeda leaders. He ultimately decided to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, to a civilian court in New York City, and automatically treated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, as a criminal suspect (not an illegal enemy combatant). Nothing better could have symbolized the new president’s determination to take us back to a Sept. 10, 2001, approach to terrorism.

Part of Mr. Obama’s plan included hounding those who developed, approved or carried out Bush policies, despite the enormous pressures of time and circumstance in the months immediately after the September 11 attacks. Although career prosecutors had previously reviewed the evidence and determined that no charges are warranted, last year Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a new prosecutor to re-investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation of al Qaeda leaders.

In my case, he let loose the ethics investigators of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to smear my reputation and that of Jay Bybee, who now sits as a federal judge on the court of appeals in San Francisco. Our crime? While serving in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the weeks and months after 9/11, we answered in the form of memoranda extremely difficult questions from the leaders of the CIA, the National Security Council and the White House on when interrogation methods crossed the line into prohibited acts of torture.

Rank bias and sheer incompetence infused OPR’s investigation. OPR attorneys, for example, omitted a number of precedents that squarely supported the approach in the memoranda and undermined OPR’s preferred outcome. They declared that no Americans have a right of self-defense against a criminal prosecution, not even when they or their government agents attempt to stop terrorist attacks on the United States. OPR claimed that Congress enjoyed full authority over wartime strategy and tactics, despite decades of Justice Department opinions and practice defending the president’s commander-in-chief power. They accused us of violating ethical standards without ever defining them. They concocted bizarre conspiracy theories about which they never asked us, and for which they had no evidence, even though we both patiently