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Dec. 14th, 2008 @ 11:51 am summing it up, in case anyone lost track
Greenwald on Bill Moyers:
Let's just quickly describe in the most dispassionate terms, as few of euphemisms, as possible, where we are and what has happened over the last eight years. We have a law in place that says it is a felony offense punishable by five years in prison or a $10,000 fine to eavesdrop on American citizens without warrants. We have laws in place that say that it is a felony punishable by decades in prison to subject detainees in our custody to treatment that violates the Geneva Conventions or that is inhumane or coercive.

We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they've done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we're deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law.

And when you juxtapose that with the fact that we are a country that has probably the most merciless criminal justice system on the planet when it comes to ordinary Americans. We imprison more of our population than any country in the world. We have less than five percent of the world's population. And yet 25 percent almost of prisoners worldwide are inside the United States.

What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.

They have license to break the law. That's what we're deciding now as we say George Bush and his top advisors shouldn't be investigated let alone prosecuted for the laws that we know that they've broken. And I can't think of anything more damaging to our country because the rule of law is the lynchpin of everything we have.
One small correction - "is" in the final sentence carries the wrong tense.
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Date:December 14th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
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when exactly *was* the law the lynchpin of everything we had?
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Date:December 14th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
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I cleverly phrased that to leave open the possibility of future tense.
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Date:December 14th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Given hindsight, it's easy to agree (and I do.) At the time though people were sooooo sick of it -- it dominated the news for years -- I think most people were relieved to see the matter wrapped up quickly. The ugly precedent it set was a problem they could kick downstream to future-guy.
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Date:December 14th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't have had the self control to leave it open for interpretation. I'd just change "have" to "had." And leave it at that.
Date:December 15th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
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I concur but would hardly limit it to W, or even politicians.
Date:December 15th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)

I might be the problem.

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Perhaps the lack of strong reaction is because of people like me.

The United States has a past that includes Herbert Hoover, COINTELPRO, Project SHAMROCK, ECHELON, and a present that includes TALON, submarines that are outfitted to snoop on underwater fiber-optic cables and an FBI who will use your own cell phone as a listening device.

Now, I don't believe everything I read by a long shot, but I didn't find the illegal wiretapping to be even moderately surprising. My bigger surprise was that it wasn't more widespread prior to that moment.

And I also can't find outrage about the fact that it was clearly illegal and done without a warrant. The reason being that the available statistics from the FISA courts make clear that it was nothing but a rubber stamp anyway. Skipping the warrant altogether is actually somewhat more honest, as it removes the pretense that the FISA courts were actually providing protection and oversight.

In general, I think that a lot of the "freedom" that Americans proudly proclaim is but long-standing myth... I'm not sure if that makes me a pessimist, a realist, or just a guy who is contributing to the downfall of America.
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Date:December 15th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)

Re: I might be the problem.

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Skipping the warrant altogether is actually somewhat more honest

Indeed, but it's the sort of honesty that presages the boot hitting your face for good. It would also be more honest if they simply refused to give up power rather than doing what they can to rig elections, but the fact that we still pretend to have elections and still pretend our laws are there to observed by everyone has some relevance to me. Because if we stop behaving AS IF these things were true, one more of those little threads that stands between something approximating civilization and something markedly less appealing goes "pop".
Date:December 16th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Have you read the Newsweek story about Thomas Tamm?
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Date:December 16th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Not that story specifically, but I'm familiar with the gist from greenwald, whose piece yesterday ("Senate report links Bush to detainee homicides; media yawns") was pretty spectacular.
Date:December 19th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
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Quite a hair-raising stat on relative prison populations - direct comparison with developed countries would've been more revealing though. I must admit after catching this documentary, I'd be locking up a couple more.