It has become obvious that the Bush administration will never come clean about any of the injustices it has committed. It has fought tooth and nail to avoid the release of information that rightfully belongs to the American public, ignoring legitimate Freedom of Information requests, and even going so far as to classify information that had already been openly available for years.
It is equally apparent that the Justice Department has little will and no intention of conducting thorough, unbiased investigations into any of the myriad violations of law by the executive branch. That may change in 2009, when Mr. Bush abandons the rotted, sinking ship of his ruinous presidency to slink back in shame to his Crawford ranch. But I don't want to wait that long.
Justice delayed is justice denied
While I have no doubt that new revelations of wrongdoing will be found when the next president embarks on the daunting task of rebuilding the democratic republic that Bush has done his level best to destroy with his doctrine of "Shock-and-Awe," and the recently revealed Cheney Doctrine of "So?", I have little faith that a former president will be held to account for his crimes by a citizenry which just wants to be rid of him. A majority of Americans now say they want the administration to answer for its illegality, but when the nightmare is finally over, most of us have a natural tendency to want only to forget the nightmare. But forgetting would be the worst thing we could do. To forget would be to effectively condone, which would set a terrible precedent for which our children and grandchildren would most likely come to despise us.
And a new president, still riding the wave of exultation after a hard-fought victory, might suddenly have feelings of magnanimity and graciousness. Even if the public cried out in anger for justice, a president flush with brand new power might falsely feel himself or herself merciful in pardoning the past wrong-doings of a used-up politician, already gone out to pasture to cut brush where he can do no more harm -- as Ford did with Nixon. But there can be little doubt that the pardoning of Richard Nixon has largely contributed to our current problems in dealing with a Chief Executive who believes himself to be all-powerful and above the law. We must set an example now if we hope to avoid making kings and dictators of future presidents.
If the wheels of justice are in motion before Bush leaves office, it would be much more difficult for a new president to pardon his crimes.
When you want something done right...
So what do good, patriotic Americans do when their Justice Department, Congress, and Judiciary will not uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution and preserve their rights? They do it themselves.
As the crimes of this presidency are numerous and widespread, there are hundreds of people out there who know just what those crimes are. Some of them have complied with illegal orders out of fear, or out of a sense that if the President of the United States says something is "necessary," it must be the right thing for the country. After all, he's the president, right? Many of those folks have come to the realization that this particular president has no concept of right and wrong, nor any clue about what is best for the nation. Those are the people I want to speak to. The only way to guarantee justice is for you to speak up and expose so much evidence that the Justice Dept. cannot ignore it.
Many of you are probably reluctant to come forward. You think that we, your brothers and sisters, won't understand, that we will condemn you and hate you. Or you might be afraid of the government, that if you speak out you will be harassed, fired, prosecuted or worse. But if you expose a serious crime, you need not fear the ire of your fellow citizens. We will embrace you, and thank you for doing one of the most moral, patriotic things you could ever do for your country. If you have any doubt of that, look to the examples of Jim Comey and Jack Goldsmith.
Mr. Comey, as acting Attorney General, took a stand to stop a program of surveillance so invasive and illegal that several Justice Department officials and employees threatened to quit if the President continued it. Mr. Goldsmith, as the new head of the Office of Legal Counsel, discovered secret legal opinions by his predecessor that were so outrageously illegal that he rescinded them, writing new opinions that infuriated the administration and exposed such atrocities as John Yoo's infamous "Torture Memo," which advised that detainees could be abused in whatever depraved way the President desired, as long as it didn't cause organ failure or death.
Neither Mr. Comey nor Mr. Goldsmith was ridiculed or condemned by the public when their stories came out. They were hailed as heroes and champions of the rule of law. They were viewed as courageous patriots who would not allow an overreaching president to completely enslave and torture people. They were praised by representatives and senators. And while I applaud their actions, truth be told, they didn't do anything extraordinary -- they only did their duty as Americans. They only told the truth.
That is all I ask of you. Some of you are employed by the government, from simple staffers to high-level appointees. Some of you are in the military or intelligence agencies. Some of you are private citizens or contract employees who have done work for the government, such as Mark Klein, the AT&T technician of 22 years who revealed the existence of a special room in which whole trunk lines of fiber-optic cables carrying all foreign and domestic telephone and data communications were intercepted and collected for illegal government eavesdropping.
Evidence of serious crimes cannot be classified for the purpose of concealing them
You may have knowledge of information that the government has determined to be "classified." As we all have learned, much "classified" information should never have been classified in the first place. Much of it is simply embarrassing, and still more is kept secret only to hide lawbreaking. Americans need to know a few things about "classified" information. Classification is only proper when it is absolutely necessary for the national security of the United States. It is never proper to classify information that is only embarrassing. And it is illegal to classify information for the purpose of concealing a crime. Let me try to put this in perspective.
Many German citizens after WWII were said to have been unaware of Hitler's state-sanctioned crimes against humanity. Hitler kept their existence relatively secret, and there is no doubt the information was officially "classified" on the grounds that public knowledge could endanger national security. Would anyone today think it acceptable to keep such a secret only because of a false claim that its revelation would jeopardize security? The U.S. certainly didn't think so when we tried and hanged Nazi officers who never personally committed those crimes, but had knowledge of them and chose to keep them secret. We convicted them under a legal concept known as "command responsibility."