( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Asking the Left side of the Blogosphere what the greatest of President Bush’s crimes/sins against this nation was is kind of inviting a shouting match. There are so many to choose from, wars, torture, environmental law changes or lack of enforcement, the list goes on and on. Without an operational definition it is a argument which could consume thousands of words on line or tens of pints at a bar. The Dog is going to provide you with the definition and explain why he thinks there is one overarching act which out shines (if that is the right metaphor for such heinous acts) all others.
“Originally posted at Squarestate.net“
First the definition: the single action or plan of action which caused the most damage to the United States through its direct and indirect consequences. That seems pretty clear, no? Now to the Dog there is one act which stands out in these terms; the politicization of the Department of Justice. The Dog knows there are will be at least a few of his readers who will say this is not as bad as the war of choice in Iraq, but stick with the old hound a little bit and he will do his best to show you were the real and lasting damage is.
We can be fairly sure Vice President Cheney and his legal svengali David Addington were already looking down the road to be able to expand the powers of the Presidency. This is clear from the choices they placed in the Office of Legal Council and who they picked to be the AG. John Ashcroft looked like just the kind of person they needed, a former Senator who unexpectedly lost to the wife of his dead opponent. A known conservative who would (they thought) do pretty much anything they wanted as long as it meant he could stay in a position of power.
After 9/11 the crisis they needed was at hand. By now they were well on their way to stocking people in all of the levels of the DOJ they needed, loyalists in the Voting Rights Section, new hirers in the professional level and lots and lots of fiercely loyal Federalist Society members in place. Then the damage began.
The damage of this tactic is three fold. First by having an AG who was a Republican loyalist they knew there would be no investigations of just about anything the Bush administration wanted to do in terms of politicizing other Federal Departments. This let them use the announcement of money being spent in States as a political tool to shore up support for Republican candidates. This grew to the level where we know that Hatch Act violations were common with Secretary level administrators holding meetings to brief senior staff on how they could help Republican candidates.
This leads to using the mechanisms of government for partisan purposes. It reaches it height in the politically motivated trail of Gov. Siegelman and the firing of the US Attorneys in the second term of the Bush administration. This might seem like a small amount of damage to our country but the reality is anytime the forces of the government are used to influence an election it undermines the very nature of representative democracy.
The second area of damage is in the use of the DOJ to justify the illegal actions of torture for prisoners and for illegal surveillance of US citizens. The Dog finds it really strange that AG Ashcroft would continence torture, but would scruple at the illegal surveillance of citizens. In any case these two outcomes from the politicization of the DOJ have done incalculable damage to our nation. Torture is a truly something which can be compared to cancer in terms of the way it spreads and degrades the society which has allowed it and accepts it, even on a tacit level. There is nothing which can be more destructive than the idea that intolerable pain and suffering is acceptable for those who your government has deprived of their freedom. It is a slippery and very steep slope which only continues to steepen until those who order it and those who carry it out are brought to justice.
The issue of illegal surveillance goes straight to an issue the Framers of the Constitution were very concerned about. Look what they wrote:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
They placed a great deal of importance on the idea a free people should be free of the government looking through their documents and possessions. The 4th Amendment has been so chipped away at the idea of the government hovering up all the e-mails and phone calls that pass through our nation is not one people flinch at, but they should. Thus far there have been few, though fairly shocking, abuses of this information. However this is not a situation which will continue. Sooner rather than later some group or party will use this vast store of information for political purposes. The dirty tricks of the 50’s and 60’s will return with the same consequences. This is a time bomb waiting to go off, all it will take is someone of questionable morals and a desire for political power.
The third area of damage is the in the combination of the embedding of the political ideologues in the professional staff of the DOJ and the revelation of the politicization. The hiring of attorneys based on their conservative political views is a major one as the Civil Service rules prohibit us from firing all of these hires. It does not matter how suspect the practice was, once they are hired we have to wait for their actions to be unacceptable in the conduct of the work they are assigned to fire them. This is a process which will take years. Even after that time there will be those left who are smart enough to avoid crossing the line and will continue to put a partisan political spin on the work they do for the people of the Untied States.
With the knowledge of all of these actions the worst piece of damage becomes clear; there is a very real question in the mind of the people of the United States if they can in fact trust the Department of Justice to do the work of the People impartially. This is a critical blow as the DOJ is the one Department which we need to be able to rely upon to make the fair functioning of our nation a possibility. Without this capstone in the arch of democracy we can not be sure if our votes will be counted, if the law will be applied fairly and evenly, if the very Constitutional protections we rely on will be upheld. The easy which this Department was subverted and the way we only found out about it through overreach of the subverter’s have to send a cold chill down the spine of anyone who believes in the rule of law and it fair application.
For all of these reasons, this is the worst of the Bush Administrations crimes or sins against the nation. By politicizing the DOJ they were able to commit countless crimes, assured of no retribution, safe to use the weight of the government for partisan political purposes to try to assure their party would have a permanent majority. This callus disregard for the nature of our country and its traditions is a wound we will be a generation in healing, if we are able to do so at all.
The Dog believes the Bush Administration to be guilty of many crimes, but it is this one which he will never forgive nor forget.
The floor is yours.