Monday, November 24, 2008

Bush's Legacy: The ideology of lawlessness

Glenn Greenwald talks to Scott Horton, discussing accountability and why it is important to bring the Bush administration to justice:
Glenn Greenwald: My guest today is Scott Horton, who has written the cover story, the cover article for the current edition of Harper's, that explores various approaches for investigating and prosecuting Bush officials for crimes that have been committed over the last eight years. The article is entitled Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration.


I want to ask about the more general point that you make: that although it's the case that in the past that presidents have broken specific laws, what has happened under the Bush administration is different in kind, not just degree, because what they've really done is assaulted the law itself. That's the argument that you've made. What did you mean by that?

SH: When we look at all these things in tandem, we see that there's a collective attitude that applies across the board, which is, they don't care about criminal law limitations on the power of the president. They believe the president has the right to ride roughshod over them. And in fact, just as a good example: if you look at Barton Gellman's book the Angler [Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency] -- excellent book -- he talks about the formation of the terrorist surveillance policy and its implementation. And he had David Addington, with the authority of Vice President Cheney, telling individuals who are putting in their proposals, to make their proposals completely disregarding the law, including the criminal law restrictions. And indeed, they specifically solicited proposals disregarding the law, and they implemented them disregarding the law -- knowing that they didn't have legitimate legal arguments to avoid the restriction, that they could just do it by force and dint of power and authority.

And they could only do that by getting high-level policy makers and people down the line to accept their position of being above the law. So they did that. They were basically governing via being at war with the law, and that's something that has not happened before. The closest case we had previously was the Nixon administration, but what I think what happened there is bland compared to what happened under George W. Bush.

GG: Yeah, I think it's a point that's often overlooked. We don't have isolated serial cases of law-breaking; it's really an ideology of lawlessness -- a principle that was adopted that the president in general has the right to act outside the law -- that distinguishes it from even the worst law-breakers that have occupied the White House and government agencies.

When I read things like this, my teeth curl with the thought of the Bush cabal escaping unscathed from their eight years of terror. We must have public exposure of their crimes and an accounting. To quote Glenn Greenwald, Scott Horton:
argues that it is imperative to investigate, expose, and prosecute the Bush administration's war crimes, particularly its torture of detainees. Scott sets forth a detailed proposal for how this should be pursued, beginning with the creation of a Truth Commission to expose what was done and to generate public support for further proceedings, followed by prosecution.
A public egging while in the stocks would be a therapeutic start...

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