Panelists debate 'justice after Bush'

In the wake of President Barack Obama's historic election, scholars continue to look back and re-evaluate the conduct of the president who came before, George W. Bush. On March 10, four experts met at a Princeton panel discussion of "Justice After Bush: Should Former Administration Officials be Prosecuted?" sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School Program in Law and Public Affairs. The panelists discussed the feasibility and rationale for prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes.

István Déak, a premier scholar on World War II war crimes and emeritus professor at Columbia University, began the talk with a brief history of postwar prosecutions and purges in Europe, where hundreds of thousands were either executed or forced from official positions after the Allied victory.

"The Nuremberg trials are not the example for us," Déak said. Instead, he instructed the audience and panel to consider a policy more in line with a purge, which would dishonorably discharge people at fault. In Austria alone, he said, 300,000 civil servants from teachers to postmen were dismissed for their association with the Nazi party. "The aim of the purges was much more than punishment, [it was] the idea of changing society," he said.

With a much more opinionated view, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been coordinating litigation on behalf of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, ardently supported harsh prosecution of the Bush administration. "You have to have criminal accountability to deter torture in the future," he said.

Charles Fried ’56 opposed Ratner, finding his moral stance dubious. Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School whose former posts include U.S. solicitor general and associate justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, said that extending prosecution to members of the National Security Agency's team, for wiretapping domestic phones and cyberspace, is equivalent to a "fetishization of law."

"There is something odd about this certainty because it's beginning to look a lot like the prosecution of losers by winners," he said. "It's beginning to look like vindictiveness."

Scott Horton, a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, agreed and suggested that an overtly non-partisan commission would be a better solution than prosecution to get at the truth behind war crimes allegations against the former administration.

Said Horton, "Truth is the mainstay of our democracy." By Julia Osellame ’09

New book: Helping kids face shots

Almost any parent knows how frightened small children can become when faced with the prospect of getting a shot. As a child, Daphne Nizza Shaw ’93 had that fear of needles. She remembers running away from a nurse on one occasion. Her mother eased the dread by promising to buy her a toy after her doctor's visit. Today, as a pediatrician in Texas, Shaw helps her own little patients deal with their fear of vaccinations. One tip she offers parents is to bring distractions -- a stuffed animal, bubbles, or book -- to her office.

After hearing so many children ask her, "Do I need a shot?" Shaw decided to offer her own distraction: a picture book about a little girl who tries to get out of shots by promising to clean up her doctor's office. Shaw wrote the story, illustrated it, and published No Shots for Me. In the end, the character gets distracted by her imagination and braves the shots, realizing that vaccinations aren't so bad.

Shaw counsels parents to talk to their children about shots well before they need to get them and to be honest that shots do hurt. "I don't advise the sneak-up approach," she says, referring to some parents' strategy of withholding the information until the moment before the child faces a nurse holding a needle. Telling kids a month in advance, however, can provoke anxiety. Parents, she adds, should explain that vaccinations deter serious illness that can hurt much more than one shot. Shaw has noticed that patients who "think about other things or sing or blow bubbles or listen to their favorite book being read ... can be distracted enough to be done with the shot before they knew it happened."

Shaw has donated proceeds from the sale of her book to benefit organizations, including Texas Children's Hospital and an organization that benefits Houston's homeless, and she plans to donate a portion of future proceeds to the Lisa Bryant ’93 Scholarship Fund. By Katherine Federici Greenwood

UPDATE: The book can be purchased at Princeton alumni can put "PU" on their name line when purchasing a book to direct a portion of the proceeds to the Lisa Bryant ’93 Scholarship Fund.

Fictional Princetonians: Answers

Congratulations to James Steward, who earned a copy of The Best of PAW by correctly answering all six of the March 4 Weekly Blog quiz questions. For those who were stumped, the correct responses are listed below.

1. Mel Ferrer ’39 played Robert Cohn in the film adaptation of The Sun Also Rises.

2. Doogie Howser was the precocious TV doctor who, according to the script, earned his Princeton diploma at age 10.

3. Cameron Diaz played fictional alumnus Mary Jensen in the 1998 comedy hit Something About Mary.

4. Batman attended Princeton -- and dropped out -- in the 2005 Christian Bale film Batman Begins.

5. Jude Law played wealthy (and fictional) alumnus Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

6. With a big job promotion on the horizon, Jack Donaghy of TV's 30 Rock quipped, "I wish I had a Princeton reunion right now."