Greenwald on the Torture Memos

The most criticism-worthy act that Obama engaged in yesterday was to affirm and perpetuate what is the single most-destructive premise in our political culture:  namely, that when high government officials get caught committing serious crimes, the responsible and constructive thing to do is demand immunity for them, while only those who are vindictive and divisive want political leaders to be held accountable for their crimes.  This is what Obama said in affirming that rotted premise:

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. . . . But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

That passage, more than anything else, is the mindset that has destroyed the rule of law in the U.S. and spawned massive criminality in our elite class.  Accountability for crimes committed by political leaders (as opposed to ordinary Americans) is scorned as “retribution” and “laying blame for the past.”  Those who believe that the rule of law should be applied to the powerful as well as to ordinary citizens are demonized as the “forces that divide us.”  The bottomless corruption of immunizing political elites for serious crimes is glorified in the most Orwellian terms as “a time for reflection,” “moving forward,” and “coming together on behalf of our common future.”

Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that Obama will not single-handedly eliminate the immunity from the rule of law which the political class and other elites have arrogated unto themselves.  If anything, as his comments yesterday reflect, he is likely to affirm and defend that immunity (and, obviously, he personally benefits from its ongoing vitality).  Demanding that political leaders be subjected to the rule of law — and finding ways to force the appointment of a Special Prosecutor — is what citizens ought to be doing.  Either we care about the rule of law or we don’t — and if we do, we’ll find the ways to demand its application to the politically powerful criminals who broke multiple laws over the last eight years.  Obama’s release of those torture memos yesterday makes that choice unambiguously clear and enables the right to choice to be made.

The whole thing is here

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