by Dave Lindorff
The calls for a reckoning for the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration are growing by the day, as the final few days of the Bush presidency wound down, and as new evidence of their crimes keep pouring out of the deflating gas bag that was the Bush White House.
For years, the Democrats in Congress, with a few notable exceptions, have sat on their hands, allowing the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, of the US military, of the nation's reputation, and of the rule of law, as well as of the institution of Congress itself, by a cabal of Republicans in the White House, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who have sought to establish an executive-led government that answered only to itself.
Obama, running for the White House, initially talked of restoring the constitutional order, and of prosecuting crimes where they had occurred, much as he talked of ending the war in Iraq. But now, as he increasingly assumes the role of President, he is backing away from that kind of talk, with plans instead to extend the war and occupation in Iraq for years, while actually expanding the war in Afghanistan, and to give the outgoing administration of criminals and Constitution-wreckers a free pass, in the name of "letting bygones be bygones." Ironically, he is doing this even as some in Congress, including House Judiciary Chair John Conyers, who ducked the issue of impeachment and sat on proposed impeachment articles against Bush and Cheney filed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) for two critical years when he could have ordered a formal hearing by his committee, are now calling for a special prosecutor.
But broken promises about the war aside, Obama cannot have it both ways. If, as he is still declaring, "no one is above the law" in America, then it is essential that those who have committed grave crimes must be indicted and tried for those crimes. As he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Obama will swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. That means not only defending the integrity of the document itself, but enforcing all the laws that have been passed in accordance with that document.
As President, Obama has no more right than did his predecessor to pick and choose which laws to enforce. At a time when the nation's jails are crammed to overflowing with hundreds of thousands of people whose crimes are as minimal as stealing CDs from a convenience store, if President Obama and his Justice Department fail to order an investigation into profound White House crimes like the destruction of evidence in the Valerie Plame spy-outing case, or the investigation into the politicalization of the appointment and firing of US Attorneys, or of the deliberate campaign of lies to justify an unnecessary invasion of Iraq, if they fail to investigate fully what the president's illegal National Security Agency wiretapping program was really all about, if they fail to investigate the rampant fraud and profiteering by White House-connected private contractors in the Iraq War zone, if they fail to investigate the clear evidence of White House efforts to undermine fair elections in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, if they fail to prosecute the White House, right up to the offices of Vice President and President, for authorizing, directing and then covering up evidence of systematic torture of captives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the so-called "war" on terror, if they don't investigate what the administration really knew and what it covered up in the days and weeks before the 9-11 attacks in 2001, it will no longer be possible to say, with a straight face, that in America everyone is equal under the law.
But that is only part of it.
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