Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration

By Ben Trott

Scott Horton has a piece entitled 'Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an outlaw administration' in the December issue of Harper's Magazine. The article is not available online (unless you have a subscription), but I recommend trying to get your hands on a copy. In the piece, he discusses the numerous illegalities of the Bush administration - along with the various possibilities for prosecution once they leave power.

'This administration did more than commit crimes. It waged war against the law itself', Horton, an NYC attorney and Columbia University Law School lecturer, argues.
'It transformed the Justice Department into a vehicle for voter suppression, and it summarily dismissed the U.S. attorneys who attempted to investigate its wrongdoing. It issued wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside connections, and it also defunded efforts to police their performance. It spied on church groups and political protestors, and it also introduced a sweeping surveillance program that was so clearly illegal that virtually the entire senior echelon of the Justice Department threatened to (but did not in fact) tender their resignations over it. It waged an illegal and disastrous war, and it did so by falsely representing to Congress and the American public nearly every piece of evidence it had on Iraq. And through it all, as if to underscore its contempt for any authority but its own, the administration issued more than a hundred carefully crafted "signing statements" that raised pervasive doubt about whether the president would even accede to bills that he himself had signed into law.'
Securing prosecution, however, is of course no small matter. It is on the issue of torture that Horton argues attempts should focus: both because it is the crime which most clearly calls for prosecution, and the one for which successful prosecution is most likely.

Note: Scott Horton also writes a daily blog, 'No Comment' for Harper's.

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