West Wing
War Crimes

Episode Report Card
Deborah: B | 1 USERS: B+
In For A Penny, In For A Pound

Back in his office, Leo's telling the General that 139 countries have signed the treaty, and thirty-five have ratified. Once sixty ratify, that's the "ball game." He asks, "You want to be left out?" Alan replies, "Absolutely. And I'll tell you what else. This is going to raise nineteen kinds of hell in Congress." Leo: "What doesn't?" Alan: "There are already extreme Republicans who are attaching amendments to bills cutting off military aid to any NATO member that signs the treaty." Leo pooh-poohs that. Alan adds, "And committing the U.S. to forcibly rescue any American soldier held and tried in such a court. Leo, this commits to United States to a scenario where we'd be invading...Holland!" Leo asks, "How much of this is about hedging our bets?" Alan insists it's not. Leo hollers, "Look, we set up Nuremberg! We set up the Tokyo War Crimes Trial. And that was fine until we realized the Cold War threat was going to take precedence. So when the German rocket scientists came here to help us get into space, we looked the other way, while SS officers followed right behind, protected by American intelligence services, 'cause they were gonna help us with the Communists." Major Dad seems to think that's a load. Leo: "Oh, please, Alan...so, how much of this is hedging our bets?" Alan clears his throat and asks Leo, "Remember Operation Rolling Thunder?" He opens a file and says, "September 1966?" Leo remembers. Alan states, "You were piloting an F-105 Fighter Chief. This was our first unit, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing out of Thailand. I was Forward Air Commander. I gave you your directions." He reads from the file: "'From I.P., heading 273 for 10.5 miles; your target is north-south running bridge over river, one kilometre to the tree line running east-west." Leo remembers, but doesn't get the relevance. His face is extremely serious. Alan just kind of makes a negative facial gesture. Leo says, "It was a military target." Alan says, "It was a civilian target. It was a dam. There were eleven civilian casualties." Leo doesn't say anything for about fifteen seconds as the realization subtly seeps into his expression. "Why did you tell me that?" Alan says, "Because you could be charged and tried for a war crime." Leo is still absorbing it all and he puts his hand up to his face, and exhales, and then angrily demands, "Why did you tell me that?" Alan barely reacts as he says, "All wars are crimes." Right. Does that mean nothing that happens during wars should be prosecuted? It's a free-for-all? I can't get behind that. Also: isn't it somewhat naïve for any soldier to imagine that his or her commanding officers always tell him the truth? Or for pilots who've assaulted any kind of target to assume that they've never killed a non-combatant? Leo sits back in his chair and finally says, "We've been here a while." Alan gets up and buttons his uniform, suggesting that they call it a day. Leo says he'll get him some time with POTUS this week. Alan says he appreciates it. Leo stands and says, "Thank you." Alan thanks Leo and leaves. Leo stands in his office, not really knowing what to think or do next.

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West Wing




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