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Diplomats advised to compare 9/11 cases to Nazi war crime trials

  • Story Highlights
  • A memo sent to U.S. embassies around the world sets out questions and answers
  • U.S. diplomats urged to consult the memo in responding to media requests
  • Memo: "The most serious war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg were executed"
  • The U.S. announced this week that six 9/11 suspects could face the death penalty
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From Charley Keyes
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Anticipating international criticism over plans to seek the death penalty for accused September 11, 2001, terrorists, the State Department is advising U.S. diplomats to point out that Nazis were executed after their war crime trials.

The United States announced this week it is pushing ahead with military commission trials and execution for six suspects in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

A memo sent to U.S. embassies around the world sets out questions and answers about the trials and the death penalty.

CNN received a copy of the memo, first reported on by The Associated Press.

One portion of the memo reads: "Doesn't the application of the death penalty to these defendants violate international law?"

The answer: "No. International humanitarian law contemplates the use of the death penalty for serious violations of the laws of war. The most serious war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg were executed for their actions" at the end of World War II.

The memo says U.S. diplomats should draw from the points in the memo "in responding to foreign government and media requests."

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"The United States abides by its international commitments regarding torture," it says.

"Torture is prohibited under U.S. law and is abhorrent to American values. No evidence obtained through torture is admissible in trial by military commission."

Last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden said his agency used harsh interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- during its questioning of three top al Qaeda detainees.

Waterboarding involves strapping a person to a surface, covering his face with cloth and pouring water on the face to imitate the sensation of drowning. Critics have called it torture.

Amid concern that the way the information was being obtained would not hold up in a court of law, the FBI sent agents to Guantanamo Bay in 2006 to independently obtain information from "high-value" al Qaeda detainees, a government official told CNN Tuesday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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