War Criminals In Our Midst
Henry Kissinger: international policymaker, Nixon's right-hand man, darling of the Washington press corps...war criminal. That's right: war criminal. At a Wednesday meeting of the National Press Club, journalist Christopher Hitchens and a panel of political scholars presented their case against Henry Kissinger for a list of international war crimes that includes everything from treason to murder. So how has Kissinger evaded justice for so long?
The only remedy left to a democratic society when the government and justice system betray the trust of the people, Hitchens told a room full of journalists - who looked increasingly more uncomfortable as the discussion continued - is exposure of the truth by a free press. However, in a country where "exposés" abound, true exposure by the press of offenses in high places - unless they are sexual peccadilloes committed by Democrats, of course! - is rare. In fact, says Hitchens, "We haven't begun to have it."
In this month's edition of "Harpers" magazine, Hitchens exposes Kissinger in a stunning article entitled "The Case Against Henry Kissinger: Part I: The Making of a War Criminal." The National Press Club panel, which discussed the piece, was covered by C-Span - the last mainstream outpost for free press in America. Among the distinguished panelists were Lewis Lapham of "Harper's," Scott Armstrong of the National Security Archive and American University, Roger Morris, former National Security Council member (under Johnson, then Nixon), and Alfred Ruben of Tufts University.
The true story behind Kissinger's evil activities has remained safely sequestered in the Library of Congress, off limits to the public. Now thanks to Hitchens and a few - very few - others, the facts have emerged and it is quite plain that H.K. has far more blood on his hands than Lady MacBeth. Answering to no one but himself - a commandeering of authority forbidden under the constitution - Kissinger personally went to the North Vietnamese ambassador and pressed him into holding off peace negotiations until after the 1972 election. Colluding with the enemy at this high a level is by far a more treasonous act than could be perpetrated by a single spy. In 1970, egged on by Kissinger and without consulting Congress, a Nixon in the throes of dementia (as described by Roger Morris) bombed Cambodia - an act considered illegal by any standards - claiming tens of thousands of innocent civilian lives. For nearly three years, Kissinger made no serious effort to shorten the bloody war, prolonging it purely for political gain. As Morris pointed out, the later Paris Peace Accords, which had as their slogan "Peace with Honor," had, thanks to Kissinger, "neither peace, nor honor." The "official transcripts" of the negotiations, says Morris, were flagrantly falsified by Kissinger to make him appear exactly as he wished to appear to the American public.
In 1970, during the 60-day waiting period between the election of Salvador Allende in Chile and his assumption of power, Kissinger engineered the murders of General Schneider and Allende. It can now be documented that Kissinger not only directly commissioned the deed, he organized its execution, shipped the weapons to the assassins, and then paid the murders - $35,000 was paid specifically to the murderers of Schneider. This murder of the leader of a country that posed no threat to the U.S. in any way ended Chile's proud 46-year history of constitutional government. In Allende's place, General Augusto Pinochet was raised to power, and a reign of torture, murder and "disappearances" unprecedented in Chile's modern history began. As it turns out, the underlying reason for the bloody, vicious coup was the intended nationalization of several U.S. companies. As Morris points out, nearly all such acts in the name of national security "curl back to corporate collusion."
But Chile is only one of the nations devastated personally by Kissinger. The murder of Cypress's leader Archbishop Makarios in 1974 was a Kissinger job. The trashing of East Timor (which Kissinger leaves out of his autobiography all together as apparently even he could not invent a suitable spin for his work there), assassinations in Bangladesh - and who knows what else as yet unrevealed - are all the work of our own war criminal.
Yet Kissinger remains free - not just free but respected and admired and now included in the elite guest list for the White House (see NYTimes today 2/23). How can this be? It is because the U.S. does not have a free press: we have a corporate media. As prize-winning journalist Seymour Hirsh (who helped break the story of the Mai Lai massacre) observed, "If the press had been able to break any of these stories in 1971, we might have been able to save Nixon from himself. He might have been afraid to do some of the things he did in 1972 and this would have changed the course of history." Seymour himself, however, was unsuccessful in his efforts to expose Kissinger.
One journalist from Mexico present at the Wednesday discussion told the panel that when he went to Washington to obtain information about Pinochet and Kissinger in Chile, he was told that information was off limits to the public for "reasons of national security." Morris scoffed at this idea. Ninety-nine percent of all government secrets are secret for political expediency, not national security, says Morris. "What is at stake [for those withholding information from the public] is corporate profit, not national security," said Morris.
The type of activity that Kissinger has perpetrated is, alas, not unique. "These are not isolated acts," observed law professor and panelist Stanley Kutler. "They permeate policy." Equally disturbing is the refusal of the American government to allow any American to ever be tried abroad for any type of war crimes - even those confessed to.
So where are Kissinger's cronies now? Every person closely associated with Kissinger in the Nixon administration has been indicted or impeached for some crime: John Mitchell was the first U.S. Attorney General ever to go to jail, Spiro Agnew copped a plea, Nixon - well, we all know his story. Pinochet has been indicted, as have Suharto and other bloody despots that Kissinger raised to power. But not Kissinger and most of his toadies. Instead, they have been raised to positions of wealth and prominence, profiting by their eager complicity in Kissinger's criminal activities. Kissinger and Nixon's "protégés now populate the present government," says Morris. In fact, he adds, "There is a direct genealogy between Kissinger and the administration of George W. Bush."
But unfortunately, the Carl Bernsteins and Bob Woodwards of the press world have been replaced with the corporate "celebrity newspeople" such as Diane Sawyer, who once sat giggling in Kissinger's lap and who last night cozied up to him once more at the Bush dinner. It is time for those who care about the future of the free press - and through it the future of the nation - to step forward. As Hitchens put it, "Somebody has to say 'You can't do that.'"