Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dealing With Bush's Misdeeds

One of my basic concerns, is that the Obama adminstration will engage this subject through the prism of political pragmatism, rather than a sincere belief in the rule of law. The Bush administration has thumbed it's nose at some of the most basic American principles regarding torture, habeas corpus, wiretaps, you name it. Also, this President and his henchmen have solicited legal opinions from their legal counsel from both within their administration as well as the supposedly objective Justice Department that have eviscerated our nation's most basic freedoms.

Personally, I believe David Addington is a man so worthless that he should be spending his golden years cleaning trash along the stretch between Wendover and Lakepoint. John Yoo should be stripped of any licensure with the Bar and should spend the rest of his days making license plates somewhere appropriate. These men prostituted themselves to the worst abuses of executive power and they did so willingly. These men in their own ways are war criminals for their justification for acts that our founders would have shuddered from. These guys are the tip of the iceberg. (Suggested reading, "The Dark Side" by Jane Mayer)

We as a country have lost so much standing to the rest of the world, that it is essential that those responsible, including the decider, moron in cheif, be held accountable for their unlawful acts. To do otherwise is to say that the enforcement of our laws is dependent upon who breaks them. It says that the ideals we have tried to import don't apply to those who would import them. It leaves us with no moral authority in the world.

On the basis of the precedents set by the Nuremberg trials, George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and his legal counsels, including Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington, and John Yoo are in fact war criminals. Will the world consider us hypocrites if we don't treat them as such? I think they should. They may be satisfied with the fact that we've changed course, but ultimately, our message to the world should be that "no one is above the law", not even the President. When a President picks and chooses which laws he will enforce, and subjugates those laws to his own perogative, George W. Bush is not only an incompetent President, but a criminal who abused the power of his position to subvert the law and redefine it in his own terms. And his doing this has created a great constitutional challenge to to our laws. Can the President do this with impugnity?

Admittedly, I have total disregard for George W. Bush. I think he offered the greatest challenge to constitutional government our nation has faced. Any Senate and Congress that understood their role within our constitutional framework would have impeached him and sent a clear message that ultimately, we are governed by laws, not people.

But now, the question is, whether we just move on and consider the Bush experience as an abberation to be buried, or a precedent to be undone through the legitimate legal framework our founders envisioned. As an attorney, I sincerely hope that Barack Obama understands the depth and breadth of what is at stake, and prosecutes those who violated our laws. If he fails to do so, on what basis do we imprison petty thiefs who break into our cars to feed their families, while those who deliberately urinate on our constitution go scott free willingly accepting fellowships at the "American Enterprise Institution."

This may sound strident and shrill to certain ears, but when you get pulled over and ticketed on a technicality, don't cry to me. The laws that apply to you, are only for you and me, not those who work in behalf of the highest levels of the executive branch.


rmwarnick said...

President Bush has an interesting dilemma. He could pardon Addington, Yoo, etc. but that would be the same as admitting their actions were illegal.

If he doesn't pardon them, we might find out what happened through criminal investigations. If they do get pardoned, they will be available to testify before a truth commission.

Anonymous said...

I wish that I still believed that we were a nation governed by law and not by people. Unfortunately I'm not sure I believe that anymore. We have a history of failing to punish people who are rich or famous. If we were governed by law then Obama would make his decision based on the facts, but I fully expect that he will base his decision on whether it will play well publicly. He won't try to prosecute his predecessor based on the fact that doing so would keep the abuses of GWB in the public spotlight. His decision will be independent of the merits of such prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Obi: "On the basis of the precedents set by the Nuremberg trials, George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and his legal counsels, including Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington, and John Yoo are in fact war criminals."

Under your theory we should have also tried FDR, Truman and LBJ. These Democrats all carpet bombed civillian locations, along with a long list of other "crimes" (Japanese-American detentions, habeus corpus, torture, surveillance, not to mention invading countries who never attacked us).

I think what the basic weakness in all of your blogs is a deep and intense belief and feeling that Bush, neocons (whatever that is) and Republicans are mean are bad people. This results in your many Swiss-cheese arguments which don't stand up to equal application of analysis and standards.

Yes yes yes, you are a relatively informed guy. But this venom against conservatives blinds your analysis and keeps you from allowing data to get in the way of a good story. It is very unconvincing.

bekkieann said...

Kneedeep, we can't do anything about what did or didn't happen in the past. We can only deal with the here and now. If this administration has broken serious American and international law, why should they not be held accountable? Don't we continue to set a bad precedent for future administrations?

Frank Staheli said...


You say

Under your theory we should have also tried FDR, Truman and LBJ.

I agree with Bekkieann. You're right--FDR, Truman, an LBJ very likely commanded criminal things in Germany, Japan, and Vietnam, but we can only deal with the here and now.

Obi wan liberali said...

"I think what the basic weakness in all of your blogs is a deep and intense belief and feeling that Bush, neocons (whatever that is) and Republicans are mean are bad people."

Maybe I have a blindspot for my blogs, but I try be consistent and have certainly called Democrats on the carpet when I have found it appropriate.

What I wish to address is the fact that the Bush Administration did what one of the major Nuremberg offenses was, that they engaged in aggressive war.

Bring torture, rendition, politicizing the DOJ, spying on American citizens, the list goes on and on, here is a President and an administration that thumbed their nose at the rule of law. The Cheney principle seemed to be that the President was above the law. And Bush accepted this with the legal help of Addington, Yoo and Gonzalez.

I wasn't there to dispute Lincoln's habeaus corpus decision. I strongly disagree with FDR's decision to detain Americans on the basis of their ethnic heritage during WWII. But these guys are dead and are part of the historic record of our country, as is slavery, crow laws, the sedition act, and other acts in our history I am not particularly proud of.

You lambast me for turning on a Republican administration as if I am singling them out. If Obama engages in supporting torture, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, you name it, I will call him on the carpet as well.

This is my time, and the America that I will leave to my children. The precedents we set today set the bar for the future. Calling Bush's lawbreaking prosecutable is intended to say in the most strong words I can utter, that no one, not even the President of the United States is above the law, whether they be Democrat or Republican.

I'm sorry you interpet what I've said in partisan terms. But I am truly disgusted by where our nation has gone these past eight years and to not speak out would to abrogate my responsibility as an American citizen.