From a commenter at reddit, on the subject of Associate Attorney General David Margolis, with Holder’s approval, reducing the conclusion of the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility report on Yoo and Bybee’s Torture Memos to Bush to say that they showed only “poor judgment“:
If Obama’s ‘Justice Department’ had conducted the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, all of the Nazis would have gone free – ‘Merely Poor Judgement, the Holocaust was just a policy mistake’!
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone…
In April 2007 scribe, one of the lawyers who comments and diaries regularly at Talkleft wrote a short diary on impeachment, and in one of his own comments to that diary in reply to another commenter had this to say, that I think applies strongly here if not nails the crux of the matter. He was discussing the legal concept of “eternal precedent“:
What we do, and what we vote and say, today, will ring down through the centuries. And those who stand with Bush and Cheney, or oppose removing them, will do so at the peril of being on the wrong side of history.
I wonder what it will be like to live, say a century or two in the future, when people may well look back at these days, shake their head and wonder “what ever possessed them, that they discarded all the rights they’d won, defended, and brought into other nations, merely for the illusory promise of ‘security’?”
Every now and again, when I listen to Austrian radio, I’ll hear them refer to the “Grossdeutsche Wahn*” – that’s the mass hysteria which accompanied the bullsh*t Hitler and his cronies sold the German-speaking (and a lot of the rest of the) world. Sixty years on, they’re still shaking their heads wondering “what the hell were we thinking”.
*”Wahn” means, roughly, “Craziness”, “insanity” or “Hysteria”.
On the other hand, in a century or two, torture, degradation and authoritarianism may, because of Bush, Cheney and their henchmen, be as normal and accepted as breathing, eating and drinking. After all, in ancient Rome, not only were there multitudes of slaves, but a slave could not testify without having been tortured first. And everyone thought that normal.
The paradigm for the future – for the descendents of those who may have kids today – is what the choices made today will decide. And that is why the precedent we set today is eternal. Once that choice is made, or ducked, it’s done and the alternative path now available, is gone and can’t be gotten back.