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June 22, 2005
A Reminder For Senator Durbin

Italy has just concluded a trial based on World War II atrocities committed by Nazis after Italy switched sides during the war. Italian authorities convicted ten former Nazis in absentia for the massacre of over 500 civilians in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, men whom the Italians believe to be alive and living in Germany to this day:

In August 1944, about 300 SS troops surrounded the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, which had been flooded with refugees, ostensibly to hunt for partisans. Instead, they rounded up and shot villagers, according to survivors. Others were herded into basements and other enclosed spaces and killed with hand grenades.

Historical documents are not clear on the precise number killed, but the most commonly cited number is 560 people. ...

The slaughter was one of the worst in a series of atrocities by Nazi troops in central and northern of Italy during World War II. Italian authorities began investigating the massacre a few years ago when officials found reports on the killings drawn up by Allied forces at the end of the war.

The Nazis took their revenge for the faithlessness of their Italian allies on civilian populations unable to defend themselves. This was not a unique case; the SS wiped the town of Lidice, Czechoslovakia off the map when two British-trained partisan commandos assassinated "Hangman" Heydrich, the author of the Final Solution, earlier in the war. They slaughtered the men and some of the women, sent the survivors to labor camps and the children to Germany to be raised as Germans, and plowed the buildings under.

And these were hardly the worst of the Nazi depredations during the war.

A question for Senator Durbin and his apologists: do you think that the American military operates in this fashion?

UPDATE: Read Michelle Malkin's Townhall column for more perspective on Gitmo and the due process given the detainees. It makes Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal look like a saint for not slapping his German hosts in this anecdote:

The diplomat, however, was just getting started. Bad as U.S. economic policy was, it was as nothing next to our human-rights record. Had I read the recent Amnesty International report on Guantanamo? "You mean the one that compared it to the Soviet gulag?" Yes, that one. My host disagreed with it: The gulag was better than Gitmo, since at least the Stalinist system offered its victims a trial of sorts.

Nor was that all. Civil rights in the U.S., he said, were on a par with those of North Korea and rather behind what they had been in Europe in the Middle Ages. When I offered that, as a journalist, I had encountered no restrictions on press freedom, he cut me off. "That's because The Wall Street Journal takes its orders from the government."

By then we had sat down at the formal dining table, with our backs to Ground Zero a half-mile away and our eyes on the boats on the river below us. My wife and I made abortive attempts at ordinary conversation. We were met with non sequiturs: "The only people who appreciate American foreign policy are poodles." After further bizarre pronouncements, including a lecture on the illegality of the Holocaust under Nazi law, my wife said that she felt unwell. We gathered our things and left.

The German "diplomat" (scare quotes not reflective of Mr. Stephens but the Germans who gave him his status) has this much in common with a good chunk of the American public -- he hasn't bothered to check his facts:

Every single detainee currently being held at Guantanamo Bay has received a hearing before a military tribunal. Every one. As a result of those hearings, more than three dozen Gitmo detainees have been released. The hearings, called "Combatant Status Review Tribunals," are held before a board of officers, and permit the detainees to contest the facts on which their classification as "enemy combatants" is based.

Gitmo-bashers attack the Bush administration's failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions. But as legal analysts Lee Casey and Darin Bartram told me, "the status hearings are, in fact, fully comparable to the 'Article V' hearings required by the Geneva Conventions, in situations where those treaties apply, and are also fully consistent with the Supreme Court's 2004 decision in the Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case.

Since these detainees do not qualify as POWs, having been captured out of uniform bearing arms against us in a time of war, that's all the process to which they're entitled. Politicians who bemoan a lack of a "trial" do not have the faintest clue about how these people have been processed.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 22, 2005 12:55 PM

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