Posted by Carl Ballard
Bruce Chapman – who it should be noted is listened to by the political establishment in one of the most liberal cities in the country – is offended that anyone would think of prosecuting criminals. If they are members of the Bush administration.
Some people think that the worst kind of government lawsuit is one in which office-holders, in pursuit of their duty, are accused of criminal malfeasance by political adversaries. In the 80s, Mark Helpern, the author and social observer, famously characterized it as “the criminalization of policy differences.”
Mark Helpren was excusing lying to Congress.* About selling shoulder fired surface to air missiles to Iran. Then taking the profits from those sales and using them to fight a war that Congress specifically said they couldn’t use any Federal money to fight. The real problem under Reagan and Bush is that they committed crimes and then called it political to prosecute them for those crimes. In effect the politicization of criminal acts.
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, a sincere admirer of his own righteousness, is of a different frame of mind, at least when the targets are Republicans. His column (“Forgive and Forget?”) in the Friday edition is number one on the paper’s most-emailed list of articles, so there must be some resonance for his protest that President-Elect Obama has “no right” to foreclose such legal pursuit.
Krugman also won some sort of prize recently. And has been pretty much right about President Bush back since when he was Governor Bush. But yes, if people in the Bush administration committed crimes, Obama owes the American people a prosecution. I don’t think you get to just say no, I don’t feel like prosecuting him (unless Bush at the 11th hour or Obama issues a pardon; that’s the president’s right, I guess, but would be a horrible idea). Especially in the case of torture, where our international agreements are pretty clear we can’t make exceptions for “a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency.”
Krugman, and some in Congress, especially want the new president to open criminal investigations into the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. He is furious about “illegal wiretapping” to find terrorists, even though the courts seem to be siding with the outgoing Bush Administration that certain telephone and cyber-spying is constitutional, and the incoming Obama Administration shows little interest in losing such options.
Bruce Chapman, who Mayor Nichols thinks has some good ideas, apparently can’t read. Here’s what Krugman said, about crimes beyond just unwarranted wiretapping and torture, with my emphasis: “Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.”
In Krugman’s telling–and in the feverish hallucinations of the Left–the Bush years were unusually rife with scandals. But any comparison with previous Administrations shows otherwise. There have been a number of independent panels that showed that the Bush Administration did not intentionally mislead the nation about WMDs or encourage such fiascos as the Abu Graib cruelties. Almost all of the Bush scandals were about process questions (the Libby case, notoriously) or were simply manufactured by the likes of The Times for political effect and had no other significance whatever.
Just because Scooter obstructed justice, pergered himself, and made false statements when we were trying to find out who outed a CIA agent doesn’t mean it’s anything more than process. And if the New York Times reports on anything, ipso facto it’s not a scandal because the whole paper has Bush Derangement Syndrome. Like the majority of America.
But, maybe there really should be a Federal case made of the way the U.S. responded to 9/11, conducted the war on terrorism and the specific war in Iraq. Let it all come out. But let all sides air their grievances and suspicions, not just the Torquemadas of The Times. Some of those grievances might be aimed at The New York Times itself, as it happens. Many would be aimed at liberals in Congress.
Yes, Bruce Chapman did bring up Torquemada as a way to excuse torture. Wrap your head around that.
The new president seems more prudent about this topic than his constant-adviser, Paul Krugman. Actual responsibility has that effect sometimes.
Having responsibility sure didn’t make President Bush more prudent in matters of torture, unwarranted wiretapping, or the politicization of justice and science.