Sunday, April 19, 2009

Get the Bastards!

As a basic proposition, our U.S. Constitution stands as a document telling us quite clearly what can and cannot be done to people in the name of government. Men a whole lot smarter and wiser than present day politicians brought their collective judgment to bear on the creation of this document. The ideas that spewed forth from this historical effort stand as beacon lights to the concept of freedom. As an example, the tempered reasoning behind the separation of power which created the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government as a system of checks and balances was the understanding that, if left unchecked, power would be misused. An American short hand of sorts has evolved that describes this concept; we are a nation of laws, not men. Decade after decade, generation after generation, examples of power grabs by individuals in basic violation of this concept come to mind; Watergate as an example. It is with this backdrop that I set forth the opening lines of an editorial appearing in today's New York Times.

"To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity." The editorial goes on to describe with excruciating particularity the various acts and techniques of human torture that Bush and his minions justified as a necessary part of the conduct of America as it purportedly sought to protect freedom throughout the world. Bush did not stop there. His administration blatantly violated the fundamental constitutional rights of American citizens by listening in on the private conversations of millions; a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

President Obama has signaled that the persons responsible for these crimes will not be held accountable. This is wrong, plain and simple. To fail to prosecute the people who promoted these despicable acts is to relegate the conduct to the world of political activity. It is to send the message to the American people that while the Bush administration did this, ours won't do such things because we can be trusted, we are the good guys, etc. etc. Accountability is the key word. In a society that sends poor and homeless people to prison for lengthy sentences because of drug seeking behaviors, we cannot simply stand aside and let conduct detrimental to the very essence of our existence go unpunished. These were not simply acts of bad judgment that can be wished away with a promise to do better this time. To allow these atrocities to go unpunished guarantees that there will be a next time. Get the bastards!

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