I was a young adult when the Nixon administration committed all its crimes, including the cover up, and was finally sent packing. Over time, I have seen our country’s threshhold of tolerance pushed further and further away and our citizens become more desensitized to the corruption.
First, it was Nixon, then Reagan and the Iran-Contra (arms for hostages and the illegal war in Central America ran out of VP GHWB’s office), the the S&L debacle, then the HUD scandal, then GHWB first Gulf War, the GWB used the U.S. Supreme Court to steal a presidential election with little protest or violence, then the Iraq war and all the corruption that has gone on in this administration (which I won’t bother to detail, because most of you here already know about that).
With each succeeding administration, the bar was pushed a little further down the road of corruption. If GWB had tried to pull any of the stunts he pulled in the last eight years during the early 1970s (Watergate time period), there would have been blood in the streets. Impeachment would have been a sure thing, and he, Cheney, Rummy, Armitage, Libby, Gonzales, Rice, Wolfowitz, et al., would be in jail.
We have become desensitized to corruption in government. We have come to accept the power for power’s sake of illegal executive privilege and how it is used to put the president and his administration above the law. We have become numb to the use of signing statements that blatantly and boldly assert that the president does not consider himself subject to laws he himself signs.
What is it going to take before we have finally had enough? Niemöller’s poem about the Nazis says it all, doesn’t it? When we start holding some people accountable for breaking the law and others not accountable, where do we draw the line? Who is in the privileged class? The Constitution of the United States explicitly prohibits any class structure. There is no nobility or ruling class or privileged class in the eyes of the law.
The use of executive privilege by the Nixon administration to exempt his administration from being held accountable for their criminal activity has been pushed to new extremes by GWB. Now, his administration simply ignores Congressional subpoenae — they don’t even bother to show up and say they are claiming executive privilege. They simply ignore Congress as if it doesn’t exist. Because, in their eyes, it might as well not exist.
The use of signing statements by GWB — over 750 times in less than 7 years — has overtly stated that Bush did not intend to obey or be held accountable for the law he just signed.
This is a dangerous precedent to set. It will only be pushed farter and farther. The next corrupt administration will aver that, since we have terrorism or some new national security crisis, they have a right to completely throw the Bill of Rights out for the sake of national security, which Continuity of Government essentially does, thanks to the War and Emergency Powers Act of 1933, the Patriot Act and other provisions that have made it possible for the President to assume complete dictatorial control in the even of a national emergency, which he himself can declare. Then they will enlist private companies toward this end who will expect to be exempt from prosecution– criminal or civil, , as Blackwater in Iraq or just like the telecoms did in the instance of illegal warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.
The new FISA Amendment of 2008 granting retroactive telecom companies OR ANYONE ELSE from any criminal or civil punishment for disobeying the Fourth Amendment must be removed from FISA. If they get away with it this time, next time will be even worse.
We cannot let this stand.