Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An end to lawlessness

With things like dramatically increasing unemployment and general financial chaos to worry about, it's no wonder that some things aren't getting the press they deserve.

Things like the vice president of the United States admitting he broke the law, and that he's proud of it.

In several end-of-the-administration interviews, both VP Dick Cheney and President Bush have tried to reconstruct their miserable record of wars botched and a Constitution disregarded as something done for the greater good. As if their last-minute revisionism could change the reality of the past eight years.

Cheney especially insists that he and the administration he guided were right in their illegal wiretapping activities and in ordering "enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding — procedures countless observers throughout history have documented as both being actual torture and also wildly ineffective.

But what is truly apalling is that so many people seem willing to let these now-admitted transgressions pass into history unpunished.

They must be punished. These — let's call them what they are — criminals against the Constitution must be brought before the courts and given a trial. (Note that this space says they should be afforded the due process they have denied so many others.)

If people like Cheney are allowed to be above the law, there is very little reason to think that future leaders will refrain from the same power-grabbing actions.

If they aren't at least brought to stand trial for breaking some of the highest laws in the land, we make the de facto admission that our nation's laws do not apply to those in power. The guy on the street may be fined for jaywalking, but the vice president can walk free after violating the Convention Against Torture, the War Crimes Act, the U.S. anti-torture statute, and the quaint little document that the country was founded on (See esp. Amendment 8).

Why? Because that's what a democratic nation founded on the principle that all citizens are subject to the law does.

Going after people in government who break the law isn't petty or part of a vendetta. It's vital to ensuring the rule of law and democracy.

1 comment:

Bill said...