In all probability Presidential Pardons will be falling like winter snow as GwB exits the White House. Can he get away with this? What other options are available to hold his corrupt Administration accountable? And most fascinating of all, will he, once again, shoot himself in the foot?
The Jan/Feb Edition of Mother Jones magazine carries an in-depth look into 3 possibilities of how to deal with crimes of Bush/Cheney/Rumsefeld. By one count, their Administration has broken 269 laws. So why hasn't anyone been arrested?
Author Karen Greenberg looks at three avenues which have been considered as ways for the American people to find some renewed faith in our Justice System, necessary by proving that no one is above the law. These are: impeachment, prosecution, and investigative commission.
When Democrats took control of Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Impeachment was "off the table", even though now Dennis Kucinich has Articles of Impeachment filed in the House. It made some sense NOT to throw away their majority advantage by engaging in the great time waste and diversion which Impeachment would require. We saw how much time was consumed with Clinton, whose case was a traffic ticket compared to throwing the book at Bush/Cheney. It would have taken months and multi-thousands of research hours just to formulate the evidence needed. Unfortunately, in retrospect it was a good decision, especially given that time for Impeachment has run out.
An Investigative Commission set up by Obama is shunned because it might look like revenge, and would also divert attention from other things he must attend to, like fixing the result of the financial Meltdown GwB gave us. You gotta fix the sinking Ship of State before you can use it to chase off after the ones who tried to sink our Nation. What more damage can they do after they're not in power, anyway? Don't ask!
Prosecution is also iffy, according to legal experts interviewed, tho not out of the question. Some Americans are being, and will be, put on trial in countries around the world. A British barrister warned that if Congress did not investigate torture issues, other countries will. And who knows? Some local DA might be just ballsey enough to try something that works, tho guaranteed to languish it's way for years to the Supreme Court.
But the biggest resistance to any form of Justice that involves Congress is this: too many will be targeted by the same spotlight they shine on others. Too many voted for things in haste they wish they had not, and the pallor of guilt smudges them all.
And then there is this overriding concern: to thwart both prosecution and investigative commissions, Bush may issue some kind of last minute blanket pardon to those under him, if not for himself as well. Well, not "may". He will. The only question is how many and for whom?
A separate box to the Article by Jonathan Schwartz caught my attention, titled Beg Your Pardon? which pondered how far GwB can go. "As long as it's for a criminal federal offense, there don't seem to be any limits at all," says Brian Kalt, a Michigan State law professor.
Citing Gerald Ford's blanket pardon for Nixon -- which was never challenged -- also mentioned was that Congressional Staffers vigorously researched options to stop Bush, and found not many. Pardon power could be limited by Constitutional Amendment, but could never happen in time.
Bush may pardon himself, as Nixon considered. Equally effective would be to pardon a large ring of subordinates, making it difficult to force them to testify against him. The final sentence is this: "However, anyone Bush pardons will no longer be at risk of self-incrimination -- and therefore will not be able to plead the Fifth Amendment if ever called to testify."
And herein lies the way GwB could shoot himself in the foot again. If those pardoned cannot be forced to testify because of immunity, the opposite is also true. They cannot be STOPPED from testifying if they choose to. Once pardoned, they cannot be prosecuted for whatever they admit.
It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some (many?) in GwB's Administration might actually have a conscience, and might try to swap their front seat in hell for redemption, given the right encouragement. Kiss 'n tell books will no doubt begin to flood the market within the next few years. But more can be done.
If Internet writers and bloggers can extend their attention span beyond the next headline, the Internet could become a powerful agent for Justice, encouraging those pardoned to come forth with their stories. And, at some point we reach a tipping point, where truth can no longer be concealed, no matter how hard they try.
It means creating Internet Investigative Journalists, not just technicians who hope to be the first to post what someone else has said or done. We must become proactive, not just reactive.
This means we must recognize that we're at a critical evolution place for Internet communication, using the prolonged corruption of GwB's 8 years as our territorial training ground. We have skills to report. Can we grow these into skills to investigate, then report? It means going offline and seeking out those who are pardoned, digging for the truth.
GwB's pardon scheme will be an act of desperation which tells us he knows he and his buddies are guilty. All those he pardons are our lynchpins. Are we up to the challenge?