Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Fought the Law, and the Law Yawned

It appears that perhaps, our long national nightmare of accountability has finally come to an end.

The Conservative will tell you it's all about taking personal responsibility. 

Unless, of course, you're talking actual jail time.

Then, it's about partisan witch-hunts. Heck, even a few democrats are acting  this way about it. Like the President.

Sort of.

I mean mixed messages, folks. Obama has released a bunch of memos detailing the opinions of the various lawyers who decided whether or not waterboarding and other little fun pastimes could be considered torture, and whether or not the Geneva Conventions should be obeyed or ignored, depending on the individual you were dealing with. But "let's not prosecute?" Why tell us they've broken the law, and then tell us we won't go after them?

The Repugs have come up with their own twisted version of accountability - they're saying that if we can declassify these secret documents, then we can also declassify the documents proving exactly which potential terrorist horrors all of our horrors have prevented. Which will come back to bite them, I think. What if there weren't any incidents prevented? What if all we have to show for all this stupid, self-righteous behavior is a great deal of international legal egg on our faces?

And all of this "all in the past" nonsense: fine. I will consult a lawyer who will come up with some sort of (pardon the pun) tortured legal finding that says robbing banks is OK. I will rob a bank based on this. I will admit it publicly. Then I can use the (admittedly inaccurate, or probably illegal) opinion my lawyer has come up with, and the local DA will look at it and go, well, it all happened in the past, so we shouldn't bother with this? I kind of doubt it.

We are still trying to capture Nazi war criminals, even when they're past the point of being punishable for much more than a two or three-month sentence (they're kind of old, you know), but by God what they did was wrong and they should pay. Better still, their crimes should be made public, so that we can all remember the horror that happened.

Our own dear elected officials allowed torture, mistreatment of prisoners, etc., but "that was all so long ago. Let's look to the future."

I'm sorry, but if you're going to hand out evidence of criminal activity that all can see and read, then you damn well better act on it as if a crime has been committed. Because if you don't, transparency and accountability mean very little. The rule of law is only as strong as those who enforce the laws. If a lawyer tells you you can kill people, does that make it legal? Or only if you're the President, and the people you want to kill might be bad guys? And if the President gets to define who and what a bad guy is without trial, isn't that a little too much power for one person to have? Especially one who already has quite a lot of power to begin with?

Just asking...

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