As you’re no doubt aware, German lawyers, working in concert with the Center for Constitutional Rights, have filed a lawsuit asking Germany’s top prosecutor to investigate Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes and Geneva Convention violations. If the Attorney General chooses to pursue the motion, she would use a 2002 German law (G-pdf) which gives Germany "universal jurisdiction" over war crimes and violations of international law, even if they have nothing to do with Germany.
There have already been 53 petitions to invoke the law and none has been acted on, according to this week’s Die Zeit, so there’s pretty much zero chance of Rumsfeld going to prison in Germany. This is unfortunate, since German prisons offer prisoners a wide range of therapeutic programs to achieve the legally-prescribed goal of "re-socializing" offenders. I think Rummy could benefit from some of these. Here’s a little play I wrote on the subject, which will be coming to a dinner theatre near you soon.
Donald Rumsfeld is sitting at a desk in an interview room in the the Justizvollzugsanstalt Tegel Berlin. He looks angry and impatient. A middle-aged man enters the room dressed in a black turtleneck sweater, holding a file folder and a clipboard.
Rumsfeld: Good grief, young fella, where’s all your hair?
Interviewer: My hair? I have no hair.
Rumsfeld: But you couldn’t be a minute over 35! Listen, young man, just because it’s getting a little thin up top doesn’t mean you’ve gotta go whole hog and shave your head. You want to go through life looking like Telly Savalas?
Interviewer: I do not know who that is. Anyway, Mr. Rumsfeld, I am here to interview you, not to discuss hairstyles.
Rumsfeld (pointing at watch): Alright, but keep it short. I have a meeting with my team of lawyers in half an hour.
Interviewer: Let me introduce myself. My name is Detlef Klingenschäler, and I am a social pedagogue.
Rumsfeld: Deflett what? Social what?
Klingenschäler: Detlef. Detlef Klin-gen-schä-ler. I am a social pedagogue. We are persons who study psychiatric and social adjustment issues relating to persons from backgrounds of social weakness. I have been given the assignment of conducting a study of your social adjustment and social background, in accordance with Section 2 of the German Law on the Execution of Sentences, so that you will be re-socialized and be able to lead a life free of criminal acts in future.
Rumsfeld: So, if I understood that properly, you’re here to turn me into a socialist.
Klingenschäler: Nein, nein, of course not, Mr. Rumsfeld, your political —
Rumsfeld: I heard what I heard, Dr. von Turtleneck. All I can say is that you’ve got a tough row to hoe there, comrade (chuckles). Anyway, you’re about 17 years too late –perhaps you didn’t get the memo about the Wall falling. But I guess your type probably thought Communism was just fine and dandy anyway.
Klingenschäler: My name is Klingenschäler, Mr. Rumsfeld. The issue of the Berlin Wall is obviously a very complex issue which I do not here want to discuss with you.
Rumsfeld: See, that’s just the problem. Look here: (moves hands to left of table) Communism bad. (moves hands to right) Freedom good.
What’s so complex about that? Good gravy, whatever happened to Germans like good old Helmut Kohl? There was a man who knew which side Germany’s bread was buttered on, if you’ll pardon the expression. We got along like gangbusters. Heck, I even ate some of that horrible pig-stomach dish he kept forcing on us.
Klingenschäler: Oh, you mean Saumagen.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, that was it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a real pig stomach, sitting there on the plate, jiggling like Aunt Nancy’s Jello Bundt cake. I thought I was going to up-chuck. But I ate it, we signed the deal, and those missiles kept Germany safe, and the Commies on the defensive. I guess you people have completely forgotten about that.
Klingenschäler: Please, Mr. Rumsfeld, let us discuss your therapy. According to the file, you have been found guilty of violations of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes by the Berlin District Court. You apparently did not cooperate with the police investigation in any way.
Rumsfeld: No, I most certainly did not. And let’s back up a few sentences there. You’re throwing a lot of reckless accusations around, relating to a situation which you do not have the metrics for.
Let’s get a few things straight. Did I authorize aggressive investigation techniques? The answer to that question would be yes. Did some of our boys perhaps get a bit too enthusiastic now and then? Well, perhaps. Stuff happens. Did things get a little hot in there for the terrorists and murderers? Why, by golly, I just bet they did! Perhaps we ruined some mass-murderer’s day. Boo hoo hoo. But the key question is this: Did we get information that prevented terrorist attacks against our troops and citizens? You bet your bottom dollar. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Klingenschäler: (writing) "do not want to be right." So I now can understand that you do not believe you have done things that are wrong and that hurt other people. This is important. I will be working with you to help you develop insights into your harmful actions and to help you understand why you should not be repeating those harmful actions.
Rumsfeld: Oh. My. Goodness. Are you for real? Am I on hidden camera?
Klingenschäler: Actually, you are. This is a prison, Mr. Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld: Don’t remind me, Defelt. Although I must say, the exercise room’s pretty nice here.
Klingenschäler: It is Detlef!