I just watched Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States, and then got to see George W. Bush being whisked away by helicopter, as a jubilant crowd sang, “Nah-nah-nah--nah, nah-nah-nah-nah; hey, hey, hey...Goodbye”.
I am not going to speculate on what President Obama will do--or might do, or could do, or should do. He strikes me as an intelligent, competent man who shares many of my concerns and is so vastly superior to his predecessor that I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt--until he gives me some reason to do otherwise. Besides, we still have unfinished business with the Bush/Cheney Administration.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should have been impeached as soon as it was discovered that their administration had cooked the books on the reasons for invading Iraq (or for any number of other high crimes and misdemeanors engendered by their ill-conceived War on Terror).
But they were not impeached--though they may wish they had been; because now America must deal with their crimes within our criminal justice system.
· “The misbehavior was not an aberration--aspects of it, particularly the idea that the president is above the law, were present in Watergate and in the Iran/Contra scandal. To fully restore the rule of law and prevent any repetition of Bush's misconduct, the abuses of his administration must be directly confronted.”--Elizabeth Holtzman, Former Congresswoman who sat on the House Judiciary Committee which drafted articles of impeachment against President Nixon, The Nation (2/2/09 edition)
· “We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.” Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s new head of the Office of Legal Council, Slate.com, 3/18/08
· “After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”--Major General Antonio Taguba, who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, McClatchy Newspapers, 6/18/08
If you were remodeling your home and discovered that termites had destroyed part of the foundation of your home, would you plaster over it--or would you fix it before your whole house fell down? The US Constitution is the foundation of our nation, and the Bush Administration has been eating away at it for eight years. During that time, they have done more damage to our home than a hundred Osama bin Ladens could have done and have turned our house into an eyesore in the community of nations.
We cannot ignore this:
· “[T]his was an assault on the law itself. If legal opinions that sanctioned torture are left untouched, it sets a dangerous precedent. ...If laws can be broken with impunity today, they can and will be broken with impunity tomorrow. Not just laws against torture and war crimes, but any and all laws; any and all limits on government.”-- Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, quoted by Liliana Segura, AlterNet.org, 11/28/08
To continue the analogy, we must not only repair the foundation of our home, we have to get rid of the termites. Otherwise, the same thing will happen again. Case in point: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been running this same play for decades:
· “A terrible tyrant must be overthrown; the window for intervention is closing quickly; Congress isn't up to the job; diplomacy is worthless, arms control bogus, and the American people are in danger if we don't take pre-emptive action.”-- Ted Widmer, in a review of Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet , by James Mann, The New York Observer, 3/8/04 (It is basically the same method described by Hitler’s right hand man, Herman Goering--“It works the same way in every country,” he said at the Nuremberg trials.)
· “If Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and others are not prosecuted, the future could be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences for their actions, including more illegal wars such as Iraq.”-- Lawrence Velvel, chairman of the Steering Committee of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference On Planning For The Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals, The American Chronicle, 1/13/09
The guilty members of the former Bush Administration, their toadies in Congress and their mouthpieces in the media are busily trying to convince the American people that the American people don’t really care about their crimes and just want to move on. That is not the case.