The Bush administration has instructed US diplomats abroad to defend its decision to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay detainees accused in the Sept. 11 terror attacks by recalling the executions of Nazi war criminals after World War II.
A four-page cable sent to US embassies and obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press says execution as punishment for extreme violations of the laws of war is internationally accepted and points to the 1945-46 International Military Tribunals as an example. Twelve of Adolf Hitler's senior aides were sentenced to death at the trials in Nuremberg, Germany, although not all were executed.
The unclassified cable was sent by the State Department to all US diplomatic missions worldwide late on Monday.
In it, the department advises American diplomats to refer to Nuremberg if asked by foreign governments or media about the legality of capital punishment in the Sept. 11 cases.