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No truth, no consequences

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No one should be surprised by George W. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence. Many people had been speculating that Bush would issue a full pardon. And, according to Bush, that option is still not off the table.

Sure, in September of 2003, Bush said, "If there's a leak out of my administration [regarding Valerie Plame Wilson's identity], I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." We just didn't realize how well he'd take care of said lawbreaker. We were once again taken for fools, and the Bush administration once again stands above the law. No accountability, no real punishment.

When I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, there was a game show on television called Truth or Consequences. It was an either/or kind of thing. From the Bush administration, however, we can expect neither truth nor any consequences.

It may have all started during Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, when he talked about restoring "honor and dignity" to the White House. How can you have honor and dignity without truth and without consequences? Anyone familiar with the Project for the New American Century knows that the real agenda was something very different. It was about regime change in Iraq, even if it required an unprovoked war of aggression on an unarmed nation. It was about U.S. global domination at any cost. And it was about not letting inconvenient little things like human rights or the law get in the way of the agenda. Honor and dignity? Hardly.

And then 9/11 provided the perfect excuse to move the agenda forward. It would just take some cunning and, of course, some deception. No problem for the Bushies. Honor and dignity? Not there.

According to the Bushies, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We knew where they were. Furthermore, Saddam was buying yellowcake uranium from Niger. And he was conspiring to sell weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaida. None of this was true, of course. But we attacked Iraq anyway. Honor and dignity? I don't think so.

But the Bushies were sure of it all. They told us so. There was no doubt. If you go to Niger to investigate and publish the real truth, your family will suffer (even if it will compromise national security). After all, only the Bushies were right. No truth, but what the heck? The consequences, deserved or not, are reserved for the administration's critics and other perceived threats, should they be so bold as to tell the truth. Honor and dignity? Give me a break.

And the lies continued:

- Mission accomplished.

- The U.S. does not engage in torture.

- No one anticipated the breach of the levees.

- We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice.

- The domestic spying program is very limited.

And on and on and on. Honor and dignity? As if.

And now the commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence provides just another unsurprising case in point. Libby was convicted of felonious lying and obstruction of justice in a national security matter, yet he will spend not a single day in jail. Bush's friends can lie and get away with it. It doesn't matter if those lies jeopardize national security. And it doesn't matter if the Bush administration's lies have cost us the lives of thousands of U.S. troops and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women, and babies. Honor and dignity? Guess again.

We the people may be angry. We the people may be outraged. But, sadly, we the people have no reason to believe that this cycle of lying and impunity will end. After all, and perhaps worst of all, no one with the power to stop this reign of impunity has bothered to take strong enough action to do so. (Hello, Congress.)

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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