Ex-White House press secretary Scott McClellan wrote What Happened, a scathing indictment of the Bush administration’s overarching persistence in ‘spinning,’ ‘twisting,’ and ‘denial’ of almost everything that related to matters of truth, and now everyone is up in condemning arms about the author. “He’s a despicably disloyal traitor.” “He’s come a little late to the telling.”
My take on criticizing Mr. McClellan is a paint brush with coarse bristles that slathers the majority of the oh-so self-righteous Americans with a rather toxic tincture of blame. Legal precepts such as “accessory before the fact,” and the “prudent-person rule,” and of course Vice-president Cheney’s “other priorities at the time” hit my consciousness like the blazing light that assaults the pupils after a few hours in a mid-summer matinee movie.
Oversight of the executive branch of government is perhaps the most consequent task assigned to both chambers of the legislative branch by the Constitution of the United States. The framers felt that oversight by the legislative of the executive was all that could prevent the nascent democratic republic from devolving into tyranny and dictatorship by a power-hungry executive. Whether in the House of Representatives or in the Senate, an oversight hearing — or, any hearing, for that matter — can be called ONLY by the chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the subject matter, and the committee chair is always a member of the majority party, or (as with Joe Lieberman) one who has aligned him- or herself with the majority! (The exclamation point is inserted because pitifully very few Americans have that very elemental bit of knowledge about the elements of American government.)_
The Republicans gained control of the House in 1994, and didn’t lose it until 2006. The Republicans held control of the Senate until 2007.
Until 2007, there was not held even one serious oversight hearing by the Republican majority. Oh, I recall with astonishment the blistering examination of then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales by Utah Senator Orin Hatch, “General Gonzales, how many folks work in your department?”
Attorney General Gonzales, looking a bit bewildered (not, as would become embarrassingly clear, an unusual characteristic of the AG), “Um, gosh, Senator, I’m not sure.”
“Would it be fair to say that the number is in the thousands?”
Detecting where the line of questioning was likely headed, the eyes of the witness brightened and a smirking smile dominated his face. “Yes sir, I’d say at least that number.”
“Well, Mr. Attorney General, I’ve got to say that it would be totally unreasonable for anyone to expect that you would know what each of these thousands of people in your department are doing at all times. Would you agree with that?”
We can only imagine that same blistering tenor of inquiry might have met Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, or then National Security Advisor Rice, in an oversight hearing . . . if there had been one; just one.
If you provide a weapon to an acquaintance that you, as a “reasonable person” know, or should know, will be, or will likely be, used in the commission of a criminal act, you are subject to criminal indictment as an accessory before the fact.
In both 2004 and 2006, every reasonable person who voted Republican knew or could legitimately be seen to have known every one of the “before the fact” travesties of justice, of human decency, of economic common sense, and of so much more that the Bush administration would perpetuate. The evidence was already there, on the table. It had been there all through the preceding four years! Thus it is that I would indict everyone who voted Republican in 2004 and 2006 as willing accomplices of all the terrible crimes committed, equal participants in the commission of the entire catalog of the unspeakable misanthropy just as much as the members of the administration. They’ve the blood of millions on their hands, and no sum of scrubbing will blot even the edge of the crimson stains: Were it not for those who voted GOP in 2004 and 2006, all the wrongs, all the deaths, all the lives disposed and trillions lost since would not have been the least possible. And not being the least possible, they would not have occurred. (I intentionally omit the 2000 and 2002 elections only because I have a kind heart, an understanding nature, and a forgiving disposition.)