It's been a busy week for activists pressing for accountability for the Bush administration as the Washington buzz turns to blanket pardons and the theory of executive privilege once an administration leaves office. On MSNBC with Rachel Maddow, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turly invoked a constitutional crisis which would be set off by Bush claiming executive privilege on any evidence of wrongdoing for the rest of his life. Imminent blanket pardons, meaning, pardons issued to by Bush to himself and members of his administration, not only for anything they did, but anything they might have done that no one is talking about yet, have taken center stage.
In answer, veterans of the Iraq War and other wars seem to have started an all-American tradition of taking over one side of the National Archives Building, where the original Constitution is stored, and decorating it with pretty banners for hundreds of passers-by reading:
DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION. ARREST BUSH AND CHENEY, WAR CRIMINALS. The action pictured above was this last Saturday.
"People say Bush and Cheney will be gone soon so what’s the point? The point is, there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, and if not held accountable, criminality will continue regardless of who is in office. We either are or we are not a nation of law."
"The Democrats are trying very hard to show ... that they're not going to re-open these issues and that the Bush crimes will remain buried for all time," Turley told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Tuesday. "It would start a new administration on the same level that George Bush left it. And that's a very sad thing."
Turley was particularly concerned about a recent statement by law professor Cass Sunstein, an Obama adviser, that only "egregious" crimes by Bush officials should be prosecuted by an Obama administration.
"We've had eight years of moral relativism and the avoidance of legal process," stated Turley. "And to start a major campaign with the suggestion that we're going to distinguish between egregious and non-egregious crimes promises more of the same."
"There are very few obligations that a president has to do under the Constitution, but one of them is not to violate the laws that he is supposed to enforce."
Right-wing radio is already -- before he has even been sworn in! -- talking about impeachment for Obama. In contrast to the Democrats who have every reason to impeach, which would legally prevent blanket pardons (the law says no pardee with impeachee), the right-wing approach is: "Just get the mood right, we'll think of a crime later."
The problem with right-wing radio is that 60 million people listen to it as their main source of opinion. You can only counter these kind by clipping their wings, meaning calling an impeachment hearing right now. If they get their way, Bush will be off the hook but guess how long it will take for impeachment to come back into fashion?
What's the point? I guess one's opinion could depend on whether you are living a fairly normal, fun life right now or pushing up daisies in Arlington because you believed Bush when he said Saddam was an imminent threat, and did what any courageous, caring young man or woman would do: go to Iraq. The problem is they can't speak for themselves anymore. It's up to we who are left, for whom they thought they were fighting, to speak for 21-year-olds whose lives were cut short, and force the long-overdue accounting.