Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Famous "Some" are Calling for Stupidity

The Boston Globe carried this "story" which said that some people are asking for trial of the Bush Administration for allegedly illegal practices.

Aside from not actually naming any of the "some people" you have to wonder what is actually "news" in this story.

The "journalist" Joseph Williams writes:
Though the full Senate confirmed Holder last night on a 75-to-21 vote, the debate had a partisan edge. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, scolded a small group of Republicans - Texas Republican John Cornyn, in particular - who threatened to block the nomination unless Holder promised he would not prosecute intelligence agents who participated in harsh interrogations.

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Cornyn wanted Holder to "turn a blind eye to possible lawbreaking" before knowing whether it had actually occurred. "No one should be seeking to trade a vote for such a pledge," Leahy said.

Last month, Holder told the committee that waterboarding - a harsh interrogation technique the Bush administration apparently endorsed for use against top terror suspects - was torture. In theory, the attorney general has the discretion to take action or appoint an independent prosecutor if there were evidence of criminal wrongdoing. But politics - the appearance of partisanship, public opinion, and the president's agenda - would almost certainly play a role.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top congressional Democrat, told Fox News Channel that she favors investigations of the Bush administration and is open to prosecutions, depending on the evidence. And House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers of Michigan plans to set up an independent criminal probe to find out whether Bush himself broke any laws by invading Iraq and authorizing aggressive interrogations.
See what is often missing from these kinds of news stories are the fact that there are infinitesimally small chances of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney being arrested and tried for anything. The taint of political retribution and the precedent it will set will be too great. So the "victims" of any prosecution will be lower level operatives who don't have the resources or the political capital to overcome the kangaroo court.

But this next little bit of "journalism" just absolutely chafed me:
Meanwhile, a recent poll indicates that about half of all Americans surveyed believe Bush should be investigated for potentially illegal activities - more fuel for grass-roots activists who are keeping up the pressure with protests, petitions, and websites.
That is it, there is no mention of who ran the "recent poll" what the actual results were or even when it was run. Yes, there are Americans who want investigations, but how many is another question.

The problem of course with doing these investigations now is what will they solve or resolve? If Bush (or way down the chain of command underlings) are found guilty, that hamstrings people going forward. Then there is the basic issue of whether what they did was actually illegal under American law at the time.

You also have the basic question of timing? Let's assume that the Bush Adminstration did indeed act illegally. Unless those illegal acts occurred in the final year of the Administration, why weren't investigations done then? Congress has the power, indeed the responsibility, to conduct investigations of executive branch activity. Why wait until after Bush is out of office to bring investigations? The Democratic Congress has been in power since 2006, right? What were they doing then?

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