Friday, August 18, 2006

Cutting down the forest of laws

Interesting point about this decision:

It rests on the assertion that enough has been publicly disclosed by the Administration itself to make findings of fact on the plaintiff's allegations. Indeed, the ruling is on a motion for partial summary judgment, which requires the court to construe all the available evidence in favor of the non-moving party (the defendant, or the US, in this case) in order to grant the motion. (Summary judgment is a remedy afforded the moving party when, all evidence being construed in favor of the non-moving party, the moving party still wins without bothering with a trial).

Why haven't those facts been disclosed? The Government claims "national security." But there is another reason: Congress has held no hearings on the matter. Congress has refused to investigate this program.

Think about that. A program of wiretapping which the government will not fully admit is in operation (it claimed in its own motion for summary judgment that the full scope of the program could not be revealed), coupled with a data-mining operation it has not admitted is in operation (the court ruled in the government's favor on that point, and granted summary judgment against the plaintiffs' claims on that issue), one that seems on its face to be in violation of the Constitution as well as statutory laws, and the Congress will not investigate.

When Richard Nixon was accused of covering up a "third rate burglary" at Watergate, a full Congressional investigation revealed the extent of the illegal activities and forced Nixon's resignation (even the Republicans in Congress realized they couldn't protect him, though many tried mightily and many insisted his resignation was not justified or necessary, as they would not admit he had done anything illegal).

But George Bush has better control of Congress than Nixon did. Bush, of course, has a Republican Congress. Still, there are no Democrats demanding an investigation; none who aren't marginalized and ignored by their own party, that is. Only lately have party leaders like John Kerry seen fit to challenge Bush on the war in Iraq. Richard Nixon was re-elected by the largest landslide in modern political history, a burial of a Democratic candidate so thorough it echoes loudly 34 years later; and yet Democrats mounted and pushed through an investigation that forced Nixon's resignation a mere 2 years later. George Bush barely won a seriously contested second term on votes counted in a state by the elected official who was also Bush's state campaign manager, and yet Democrats cannot work up sufficient outrage to point out the obvious: Bush and his administration are in violation of several criminal laws.

Small wonder the Bush administration is so anxious to change the laws on war crimes retroactive to 9/11. AG Gonzalez is not so confident of his legal opinions as he would have us think. Would that the Democratic party had at least the faith in the rule of law that Mr. Gonzalez has belatedly found.

Update: DAS reminds me, inadvertently, that I don't expect we'll find another Barbara Jordan, either. Not only is it hard to imagine "Watergate" hearings over what Bush has clearly done, it's hard to imagine any Democrat who could give a speech that would convince the GOP that Bush must go.

Golly gee willikers, politics is just so partisan these days! Must be the Democrats fault, huh?

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