February 08, 2008

Bush's USA Crosses A Dangerous Line

Another bad day for US Democracy. I'll just repeat what David Kurtz at TPM said:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is back on the Hill today, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee. Paul Kiel is covering it at TPMmuckraker.

So far, he's dropped two big bombshells. DOJ will not be investigating:

(1) whether the waterboarding, now admitted to by the White House, was a crime; or

(2) whether the Administration's warrantless wiretapping was illegal.

His rationale? Both programs had been signed off on in advance as legal by the Justice Department.

Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.

We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.

It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).

President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff.
I sense a pattern here. We just had the CIA admitting that yes, they do waterboarding, and yes, they will do it again. And we now learn that Bush himself wanted them to come out and say that:
"The president authorized Gen. Hayden to say what he said in the testimony yesterday," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters.
We've also had an admission about the existence of a secret Camp 7 at Gitmo. We've got continued maneuvering for an attack on Iran...

And then there's the US media. Karl Rove's move to FOX says it all, doesn't it? Nobody is touching Sibel Edmonds allegations, even though the UK Sunday Times has run a whole series of explosive articles. The US media remains almost fully complicit, and so of course is Congress (who voted for Mukasey even though he refused to condemn waterboarding).

So... I am beginning to think that Bush and Cheney have decided to just lay it all on the line and roll the dice. And if that's what's happening, then I don't think the Bush cabal is going to go quietly in November. There's too much to lose, and they are sitting on too much power.

John McCain is not one of their inner circle (and I don't think he can win anyway). And these psychos in the Oval Office today are not going to just hand the keys to a President Obama, or Hillary, and walk away.

This could get ugly (uglier)...

Meanwhile, the case of Khalid El-Masri just got a lot more interesting. A DOJ official is due to testify in the Senate next week. The Bush administration has already admitted they grabbed the wrong guy, and then used state secrets privilege to bury the story. Will the DOJ invoke these newly-claimed levels of executive privilege to bury the story forever? If so, it means the USA believes it can pick up any citizen of any country, anywhere in the world, do anything they like to him or her, and never be held accountable.

Somehow I don't think the rest of the world is going to be very comfortable with that.

And just a little reminder that this blog was about the only place in the world, at one stage, where you could even read anything about El-Masri's case. He had to work his way through German and Spanish courts even to be acknowledged by the US DOJ, and the media did their damndest to ignore this incredible story every step of the way.

3 comments:

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Gandhi, the problem is, you're not cynical ENOUGH. If you were, you'd feel as comfortable as me. You just have to crank the Cyn-o-Metre on your tinfoil hat up to 11.5, while standing outside in a metal tub filled with warm salty water, on a day when thunderstorms are forecast.

What makes me feel sanguine is my belief that Cheney and Co. don't give a rosy rat's arse about the continuity of the U.S. government. Or the United States itself. That's why they're not going to bother to attack Iran, or stage a coup to stay in power past 20/1/09. They'll have stolen all they can get away with, and they'll leave the rotting carcass of the country behind, like Ebola viruses scattering from the haemorrhage of a dying Congolese. Why would they want to stick around when they can let someone else deal with the toxic mess?

I believe that everything they do is for the financial benefit of the top 0.1% of the U.S. population. That's 300,000 people. A small number of humans, in the grand scheme of things. Compare that to the number of refugees who have fled Iraq, for instance. The top 0.1% is set. So the rest of America can go straight to hell, as far as Cheney is concerned.

How much EXTRA money has each of those 300,000 socked away during the reign of Bush? $10 million? That's probably a lowball estimate. But it's enough to live large for the rest of their natural born days. So what can they do with $10 million, on top of the tens of millions they already have?

The answer is: Anything They Want. Live in a mansion protected by your own militia (whose wages will be increasingly cheap, as unemployment rises.) Pay them in gold coins, which they bought with their incomprehensible wealth, before the U.S. dollar became toilet paper. Emigrate to Dubai, or Switzerland, or even AUSTRALIA!!!! Or stay in the States to scavenge scraps of flesh off the bones. Lots of upside potential for snapping up foreclosed houses at 10 cents on the dollar to their 2006 prices and renting them back to people working on the hydroponic urban farms exporting food to the Chinese masters, perhaps...

If you're really, really, really cynical, you won't see the U.S. as a fascist empire. You'll see it as an nation-sized Enron, instead. Ken Lay (wherever he's hiding) did quite well from that, and after a few years of soft yakka in a white-collar prison, so will Jeff Skilling.

As you note, there's been no effort to prosecute the ruling class by the current legal authorities, except for the unfortunate Lewis Libby. Future authorities will not prosecute these criminals either. They are amoral, so no pangs of conscience about the collapse of a great nation. To turn Barbara Bush's words on their head, the economic Katrina is working out very well for them.

gandhi said...

You are quite right, Bukko. If I was REALLY cynical, I wouldn't bother writing this blog.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Apropos of nothing, have you heard of the FBI's InfraGard program? It's a deal where bigwigs in businesses sign up to be FBI finks. In exchange, they get warnings of "terrorist activity" before other U.S. citizens do. And more importantly, they are deputised to shoot to kill...

Creepy. Puts me in mind of the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia that the government of Rwanda deputised in 1994, which was given orders over the radio when it came time to start killing Tutsis.

I'm working on a bigger tinfoil hat. It has broad brims, to protect from the sun as well as rays from CIA satellites. I'm tilting the brim up raffishly over the ears, and down over the eyes -- a tinfoil Akubra!

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