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Friday, January 23, 2009

Catching Criminals is Important Too Mr. President

Hello Papamoka Bloggers - It's only the first week, and I don't wish to be negative, but so far President Obama seems lukewarm on Bush crimes. It's early, but I'm still nervous. He signed impressive executive orders restoring transparency and ethics, and ordering Guantanamo Bay closed and ending torture, but going after Bush crimes and Justice Department priorities are still a mystery.

Republicans are still trying to cover their tracks. Many believe Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is delaying the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder by one week to delay him from going after Bush, Cheney et al on wiretapping. They may be trying to make a deal. Other Republicans are threatening to withdraw their support on the stimulus bill and other legislation if the Administration moves against Bush. So far there's a lot of smoke, but the fire is missing.

The biggest crime is about to expire, and Obama knows it. George Bush reauthorized the illegal wiretapping himself because Colmey stopped the hospitalized John Ashcroft from signing the paperwork. Remember, Colmey criticized Gonzales for trying to force him in front of that congressional committee. Well, that bit of lawbreaking is about to expire - the statute of limitations runs out in March. We need Obama and his Justice Department to act soon .

Whistleblowing on the day Obama took office has revealed the extent of the wiretapping. The NSA spied on all Americans, including journalists and politicians. George Bush probably benefited from knowledge learned through wiretaps. It's probably one reason why he always seemed to have inside information. His Administration, especially Rove and Cheney, were a little too good at exploiting weakness; it's obvious now they had an edge. If they did it, it represents a string of felonies and it should NOT BE IGNORED! Obama must act!

I find the whole justice debate mind-blowing. Evidence of Bush lawbreaking is extensive, yet the majority of Republicans still defend him. They impeached Bill Clinton over perjury, yet fail to criticize Bush over anything. They act as if he's above the law. They call anyone who questions him an "extremist." They always describe him as a "good guy" who "did his best" during very "difficult times." They describe him as a "decent man" who "tried to do the right thing" but fell short. It's extraordinary listening to them.

My Republican friends and family won't even question his past actions. They're almost "sheep-like" in their reverence for the man. They say "he kept us safe" as though nothing else matters. It's obvious to me now that objectivity, self-awareness and reflection are not strong Republican personality traits.

It's obvious there's a double-standard in the country today, but I can't figure out why. Is it party loyalty? It's very strange. We threw Nixon out of office, and he was a Republican, so why not question Bush? Do we need White House tapes? What do they need? Ordinary Americans appear almost brainwashed. They scream about Blago, and call for investigations and justice against Democrats on a regular basis, yet rarely question their own actions. It's amazing to watch.

Even journalists seem to ignore the severity of the Bush crimes. Dismissing FOX "News," correspondents on corporate news networks like CNN and MSNBC these days talk about how "difficult it would be to prosecute" and how "most in Washington are looking ahead." Except for a few like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, they talk as if enforcing the law [for politicians] is optional. I often walk away from the news dumbfounded that our nation has become so selective in the way it views justice.

So, ask yourself what will happen if nothing happens? I'll tell you! Average Americans will begin to question the fairness of justice, and start to see unequal justice. "Why care if they don't" will be asked everywhere? It will mean a slow and steady erosion of respect for the legal system. Is that wise? It may not be obvious right away, but it will begin to surface in courtrooms across America over time. Do you really want to take that risk Mr. President?

The Obama Administration may be playing political gamesmanship, knowing something we don't know. We can only hope they're doing the right thing, because inaction would be a disaster for the future of the nation. A majority of the country knows that Bush lawbreaking was extensive, and ignoring it would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents - both Republican and Democrat. American justice should be more important than political expediency. Catching criminals is important too Mr. President, so please act soon.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Blogger DB said...

Tbh, I am torn. Part of me wants justice for these crimes, yet part of me wants to move forward and retract the failed policies. Obama can make large gains if he leverages these investigations over the heads of the Republican leadership. Does that give us justice? No. But it does allow for progressive policies to move forward and could ensure an Obama win in 2012 with little fight.

Prosecuting the Bush crimes could provide justice, but at what cost to our country? The Obama administration and Congress would be tied up fighting these battles (which will without a doubt divide our country further) and his progressive agenda would take a backseat (thus affecting all of us).

Obama will accomplish so much more if the Republicans work with him. I know that if I was a Republican and Obama launched investigations, I would do everything in my power to impede his agenda and rally my supporters. Perhaps justice by another name is to hold this above their heads in closed doors forcing them to support the Obama agenda.

Then again, not bringing the injustices to light only invites the crimes to return in the future. And we know Republicans will fight against his agenda either route he chooses...

See? I am torn lol.

9:08 PM  
Blogger by Michael Boh said...

DB - I LOVE that analysis - it's very practical and accurate. It gets to the core of the problem. In the end, as you probably already know, I think NOT prosecuting would be worse than prosecuting. It's a debate that needs an answer soon. Even Chris Matthews seemed confused on Hardball today. Most Republicans are threatening us with bad stuff if we try. I personally think politicians need to grow a pair and help protect the future, but then again I'm a longterm kind of thinker. :) Thanks for the feedback DB - MB

10:04 PM  
Blogger DB said...

You bring up a good point...that the GOP will threaten them if they try. They shouldn't allow the GOP to control this conversation (which they will and is my pet peeve with Dems). They should be out front "threatening" the GOP with this and holding it above their heads, not the other way around! They should be using this situation to their own advantage getting what they want. Knowing the Dem leadership, they will find a way to blow this opportunity. They don't know how to act like the majority and use their power to their advantage. Knowing this, it may just be a better idea to prosecute since I think they will blow their opportunity at capitalizing on it.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

It's a really tricky one: perhaps it all comes down to politics versus justice?

I suppose the best argument for doing this is that whilst the costs of acting are borne in the short term, the benefits are felt in the long-term in cleaner government. Was it Ford's decision to pardon or congress and the media trying to impeach President Nixon that has forced all subsequent presidents to behave better? Clearly the latter...

But - cynic that I am! - I can't help feel that the short term threat to Obama's agenda will take precedence and he'll resist any attempt to prosecute, especially when he can see it as a question of "binding up the nation's wounds".

5:28 AM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

To be honest with you, I could actually picture President Obama pardoning former President Bush for the sake of the office of President the same way Ford had to pardon Nixon. Only then could a bipartisan approach be doable to clearly define the powers of the President such as signing statement, wire tapping, and the list goes on of crimes committed by President Bush in the guise of the office of President.

Excellent article and insightful debate in the comments! Loved it!

8:20 AM  

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