The US Justice system is rooted not only in the Constitution and legislation passed by Congress and individual states, but also in legal convention that goes back several centuries and beyond, as practiced in the Great Britain, France and other European nations. There are also conventions and laws rooted in Arab, Greek and Native American practices, all of which make up what is arguably the best foundation of justice in the world.
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In our system of justice if a person is suspected of a crime, they have a right to a fair trial with a jury of their peers. One of the fundamental premises in our justice system is that any suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty. Added to this principal is another fundamental cornerstone, the right of habeas corpus. Courageous individuals won this right when they fought and died for the passage of the Magna Carta in 1215, almost eight hundred years ago. Without the latter protection, the concept of innocent until proven guilty could be circumvented by indefinite imprisonment. The right to a fair trial with a jury of one’s peers, the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty and habeas corpus are the three legs on which our system is founded and that prevent our nation from becoming a banana republic dictatorship. They give true meaning and substance to the word freedom. So powerful is this system that even in cases where people do not agree with the jury’s verdict they most often support the result, knowing it was achieved under due process.
After Bush, Cheney and Rove corrupted and defiled our system by filling the Federal Justice Department with incompetent partisan hacks, charged with selectively enforcing the laws in favor of their continued stranglehold over the political process as well as a method to dole out punishment to their detractors and legitimate political opponents, it is no wonder that many Americans lost some faith in the impartiality of our justice system and its ability to properly carry out the due process of law. Nonetheless, some hope was restored when Obama won last year’s election often repeating the phrase, “…no one is above the law,” with its clear inference that crimes of the previous administration would be vigorously pursued and prosecuted, as required by law.
When Obama first made statements about the torture policies and practices of the Bush administration indicating a desire to ‘look forward’ instead of focusing on enforcing the rule of law, one could imagine that he was simply waiting for public opinion to give him adequate support to live up to his election promise. This was reinforced when he allowed the so called “torture memos” to be released to the public after which there was sufficient hue and cry to justify following both domestic and international laws and allow the judicial process to proceed as it was designed to do.
However, more recently his speech changed and he appeared to resist the pressure of his electoral base to pursue prosecutions and to enforce the law, as it was written, intended and as he is required to do by virtue of his oath of office. As time as passed, and its only been a few short months, his language increasingly resembled the language of the former administration, against which he campaigned. Now we learn that Obama is blocking the release of photos and videos that most certainly would create a clamor so loud as to provide complete justification for pursuing the rule of law and allowing our justice system to do its proper work.
This turn of events and change of position is remarkable. After soundly rejecting the policies of unfair justice and perverted legal arguments at the polls last November, it is hard to imagine that in a few months the person we elected to champion our return to democracy, justice and equality, is completely reneging, bringing further dishonor to the Office of the President, not to mention the position of the US in the world.
His actions appear to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obama does not trust the American judicial system. This unbelievable revelation is underscored by Obama’s expansion of illegal eavesdropping and the wholly un-Constitutional assertion of Presidential prerogative, with a truly ominous ghost of the now famous Nixon/Frost interview wherein Nixon claimed that if the President did it, it is legal.
The criminally twisted logic of Nixon, passed along to subsequent Presidents and now inherited by Obama also proves why it is imperative that we fight each and every day to protect our democracy and freedoms granted by our Constitution. Once theses revered principals are violated it appears impossible to restore them. Like Pandora’s box, once opened, closing becomes impossible.
One other principal that is again proven beyond question is the famous quote, attributed to John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We do not need to fear only the criminals in our government but also the honest people who, by virtue of their human frailty, succumb readily to the seduction of corruption. The vows of his inauguration day still echoing in our ears, Obama has already abandoned the very principals upon which he vigorously conducted his campaign, inveigled a large majority of Americans and won the office of President of the United States of America. Apparently is takes much longer for US citizens to keep up with the drastic changes. Still running on the momentum and euphoria of rejecting the former criminals who ravaged our Constitution and rights, most people have checked out altogether and gone back to their Rip Van Winkle state of mind.
Using such dubious legal notions as “wanting to look forward,” and “serious lapses of judgment,” this administration is continuing to perpetrate the very same crimes against which it railed in order to gain the popular support and thereby win an election. If Obama does not trust in the US system of justice, where does that leave us? One is only left to wonder, “Where is the justice?” Apparently its MIA.
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