In 1776, our founding fathers made a bold pronouncement: that all men are created equal, that we were endowed with inalienable rights, and, among these were Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Enshrined in our Constitution were more bold pronouncements: that no man could be deprived of his rights, that no man [is] above the law, and, that our government was designed to protect these rights. These words hinged on one key principle; that the truth of these words would always be upheld. We learned during the years of the Bush administration how these principles were forsaken and that the truth didn’t matter as long as a political agenda was advanced.
We learned that our government was spying illegally on its own citizens. We learned how the FBI was abusing the power vested upon it. We learned how intelligence was twisted, or even ignored, in order to send America to war with Iraq. We learned that America tortured people. We learned that people in the Department of Justice violated the law. We learned that a person who worked in the CIA had her identity revealed for partisan and political gain. We learned that the CIA had taken to kidnapping innocent people from around the globe and sending them to be tortured in secret prisons.
During this time, people came forth to speak the truth. Tyler Drumheller came forth to tell us that Iraq didn’t have the programs we were told. Sibel Edmunds came forth to tell us about illicit dealings with foreign governments. Mark Klein came forth to tell us how the CIA and NSA were using AT&T to spy on America. Ray McGovern came forth to call Donald Rumsfeld a liar for his claims that we knew Iraq had WMD. Cindy Sheehan came forth to challenge the Bush administration’s claim that her son died for a noble cause. Joe Darby came forward and showed us the torture and abuse occurring at Abu Ghraib in our name. The more people who spoke the truth, the more we learned about the abuses our government had committed.
No man is above the laws of our nation, or so our founding fathers stated. Bradley Schlozman was never prosecuted for his actions. Monica Goodling was allowed to simply leave government without prosecution. No military officer was ever prosecuted for their part in the torture of prisoners. No CIA agent was ever prosecuted in an American court for their part in the torture of prisoners. Dick Cheney has escaped prosecution for his role in the outing of Valerie Plame. No NSA official or AT&T official was prosecuted for illegal spying on American citizens.
The people of America debated the use of torture instead of condemning its use. Illegal acts committed by people at the Department of Justice were deemed acceptable politics. Illegal acts committed by the NSA and telecom companies were dismissed and immunity from civil prosecution enacted into law. If a government official violated the law, it became accepted that merely being removed from their post was punishment enough. Yet, some of these same people have been embraced by the media as “experts” and been given jobs.
When GOP Congressman Mark Foley was found to be trying to have sexual relations with male pages, he was simply whisked away to “rehab” instead of facing prosecution under the internet law where having sexual encounters with people under the age of 18 is illegal. When GOP Sen. David Vitter was found to have frequented prostitutes, he wasn’t prosecuted, and, he didn’t even resign his post in humiliation.
When a Washington, DC, “madam” was about to name names, she suddenly committed suicide before facing prison time herself, the Johns’ names that could have sunk political careers now safe. Republican IT guru Mike Connell’s plane suddenly crashed before he could testify about his role that could have divulged GOP trickery.
During all of this, the Obama administration has claimed it wanted to look forward, not backward. That somehow saving the American public the pain of prosecuting lawbreakers was somehow better for us than upholding the laws of our nation. And, while claiming this, his administration has tried to keep in place some of the Bush’s administration’s worst actions.
President Obama, like former President Bush, claims that it can imprison people indefinitely, without charge or trial, all for our security. President Obama, like former President Bush, claims that lawbreakers, no matter who they are, shouldn’t be prosecuted. President Obama, like former President Bush, is simply ignoring the lawlessness of those in our own government.
This is not what our founding fathers wanted or envisioned. When those who serve in our government are deemed to be above the laws of our nation, our entire nation is in peril from becoming the very thing our founding fathers rebelled against: a tyrannical government.
This begs the question; why are THESE lawbreakers given immunity? Why are these people now above the laws of our nation? Why is it now punishment enough for them to simply leave their government posts instead of facing prosecution? And, how is it that the man who promised that he would restore the rule of law in America would suddenly make sure his administration doesn’t do so despite the overwhelming evidence of lawlessness? And, worse, how did we, as a nation, become convinced that is something that is acceptable to us?
Italy tried, and convicted, twenty-six CIA agents for their role in kidnapping and torture. Spain is still looking to put on trial the lawyers of the Bush administration that gave torture the “green light.” Yet, our own nation, our own government, stands silent on this issue, even though our forefathers founded this nation on the belief that no man was above the law.
Have we come to believe that our government is an entity unto itself? That it can violate laws without prosecution? Or, is it that our government has come to believe that IT is an entity unto itself, and, as such, that IT is beyond the law?