What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 17, 2009

More On Bush's Crimes Via The NY Times Editorial Board

Last Saturday I wrote about this report from 5 Inspectors General regarding Bush era secret surveillance activities.

Today, with an editorial titled, "Illegal, and Pointless," the New York Times Editorial Board chimes in:
We’ve known for years that the Bush administration ignored and broke the law repeatedly in the name of national security. It is now clear that many of those programs could have been conducted just as easily within the law — perhaps more effectively and certainly with far less damage to the justice system and to Americans’ faith in their government.
And...it just gets worse for Dubya and Cheney from there. A few paragraphs later:
Once the Bush team got into the habit of breaking the law, it became their operating procedure that any means are justified: ordering the nation’s intelligence agents to torture prisoners; sending innocents to be tortured in foreign countries; creating secret prisons where detainees were held illegally without charge.
And finally a call out to the Obama administration:
President Obama has refused to open a full investigation of the many laws that were evaded, twisted or broken — pointlessly and destructively — under Mr. Bush. Mr. Obama should change his mind. A full accounting is the only way to ensure these abuses never happen again.
Bush and Cheney and their administration broke the law. Repeatedly. For the sake of the integrity of the system, their illegalities must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law they so flagrantly violated.


sailhardy said...

Since The New York Times has already decided the verdict, why don't we skip the investigation and go right to the sentencing of the entire Bush Administration. We will thereby save time and money. We will also be encouraging the Obama Administration not to leave peacefully when its time is up. Good thinking New York Times!

EdHeath said...

Um, the point is, the New York Times is *not* suggesting skipping the investigation.

Obviously if Obama simply sentenced Bush to some kind of detention without due process (like the Bush administration did with so many “detainees” down in Guantanamo Bay and in prisons around the world), our country would erupt. But not only is Obama not doing that, he is resisting conducting the investigation presumably because he is aware that slightly less than half the country voted against him, for a variety of reasons. Investigating the actions of the Bush administration would make it look like he is trying to damage the Republican party, and perhaps validate some of the “interesting” theories about Obama, like that he is a communist or Muslim or both. What Obama or his Secretaries have done is end several Bush programs which were quite possibly illegal.

Let me ask, what specific thing has Obama done that would make you think he will not leave the White House peaceably in 2012 or 2016? Is this some kind of Poplawski thing, are you trying to encourage the gun nuts to start taking shots at Obama because he is becoming or already a dictator (not that the gun nuts seem to need much of a push)? Mind you, I am not saying that Obama should not be criticized for things he has done wrong. I am just saying that claiming he is trying to set himself up as President for longer than four or eight years needs more justification than an editorial in the NYTimes.

The NYTimes basically pointed out things we can all remember from the Bush years, plus some things revealed in the Inspectors general report. But the Times is at pains to say that much is still classified, so in fact an investigation by an impartial Special Prosecutor is needed to look at these classified documents without endangering national security. Without doing that, we will never know (or at least won’t know for years) the truth of Dick Cheney’s claims that the programs saved thousands of lives.

sailhardy said...

I read, "President Obama has refused to open a full investigation of the many laws that were evaded, twisted or broken — pointlessly and destructively — under Mr. Bush. " Naturally, I assumed The New York Times has already concluded that laws were evaded, twisted or broken, so why would it want to bother with an investigation?

As for Obama's continuing his Administration beyond any legal length, I don't suppose he is going to do that. I don't suppose he won't, either, but I am baffled by his support of a Honduran president who has proposed that he might do that, as does his mentor, Hugo Chavez. There is, as perhaps you know, a large number of North and South American countries, including our own, which have clauses in their constitutions setting term limits to their presidencies. There is a reason for that, as several countries have been damaged by dictatorshiips. There are those who think FDR's hold on power damaged out country some. But of course, they are probably all Republicans.

EdHeath said...

Well, to your second point first, you say that you don’t suppose Obama will break the law and seize power unconstitutionally, but you don’t suppose he won’t. I mean, just because he took an oath to uphold the constitution, but then again, how can we trust Obama? I see the code you are feeding us. Your trying to link Obama to the Honduran President is quite a stretch. Yes, Zelaya was trying to have a referendum to change Honduras’ constitution so he could serve additional terms in defiance of his country’s Supreme Court. But to have him seized by the military in the middle of night and deported? I imagine some Republicans dream of doing that to Obama, and justifying it by claiming Obama was not going to relinquish power. But unlike Honduras, there’s no evidence of that with Obama. Unless you had something you wanted to share (besides innuendo).

As far as what the NYTimes said, this was an opinion piece, so I would not be surprised to see them express … you know … opinions. But past that, I certainly remember conservatives pundits talking, in the days after 9/11, about how FISA made intelligence work really onerous. The pundits talked about legal justifications for wiretaps that had to be some astounding size (a stack of paper a foot, two feet tall, some damn thing) and what a burden that was. So, according to the pundits, it was entirely reasonable that President Bush could simply decide to bypass FISA. As Nixon apparently said in his interview with David Frost, if the President does it, its not illegal. Except that it was.

But saying that what Bush did was illegal is actually not saying that much. Who was it who decided to bypass FISA? When did they decide? How did they decide? Who was involved? Even when the police find a man with a gun standing over a dead body, they don’t have a mobile electric chair they can use to dispatch this obviously guilty person. The police investigate the crime, gather the evidence and present it to the district attorney, who decides what to charge the accused of, or even whether to charge him.

In the case of the warrant-less wire tapping, the news media has reported that it occurred, and I suspect most people believe it did. But President Obama has essentially decided that either the issue is not worth investigating, or that if some crime was committed, it was justified by the circumstances. The NYTimes, and others, disagree and are pressuring Obama, as is their right in a free society. But notice, the Times is saying investigate this crime we helped uncover, not punish this man based on our opinion.

Finally, as to whether Roosevelt’s four terms damaged the county, I really couldn’t say. George Washington might have been able to make himself king. Lincoln, had he lived, might have been elected to multiple terms (assuming he hadn’t stepped aside). Roosevelt was elected in one time of crisis, and another crisis was looming when Roosevelt ran for his third term. At the time, there was no Constitutional reason why Roosevelt couldn’t serve a third or fourth term. Even though you bring up Roosevelt right after you mention dictators, Roosevelt was not one. He had not had himself specifically elected for life (although it did work out that way). Now, Roosevelt did better at getting the country out of the depression than Hoover had done. And Roosevelt seemed to be a fairly successful wartime President. I am sure there are things Roosevelt could have done better economically and/or militarily. But maybe you do have to be a Republican to suggest that the country would have been better off without Roosevelt.