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.