Politicized Justice Department Firings Are Not the Only Investigation Needed
That Karl Rove and Harriet Miers are finally going to testify in some fashion before the House Judiciary Committee is encouraging news. It is to be hoped that ultimately their testimony 1) will be open to the public, and 2) will actually clarify something about politicized hirings and firings in the Bush Justice Department.
But we must remember that other issues besides politicizing Justice, however grave that was, have left residual dangers for this country.
Now, with an avalanche of economic news and the continuing drain on our resources of occupation in Iraq and strife in Afghanistan, among other issues, the entire topic of illegal wiretapping has faded from view.
For eight years, the Bush administration and its allies in the GOP and the corporate media portrayed illegal wiretapping as an irreconcilable clash of fundamental civil liberties against the need for security. Much of the press and the Democratic Party fell into this rhetorical trap.
To this day, too few of our leaders have challenged the Bush White House claim that any illegal actions were committed in order to protect and defend Americans.
This issue is not merely political, not merely ethical. It has intrinsic connections to domestic security for the United States.
A few reminders here, still relevant from a much earlier post:
- While claiming to protect Americans, the Bush White House accepted an ambassador from Saudi Arabia—home to 14 of the 19 highjackers who carried out the attacks of 9/11–with connections to al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani secret intelligence service (ISI).
- The same White House failed to expose or refused to expose support received by the 9/11 hijackers from Pakistan’s highest levels of government. Instead, Bush-Cheney embraced Gen. Musharraf as a full partner in the ‘war on terror.’
- The same administration disrupted an effective investigation in Pakistan by exposing a contact there.
- Needless to say, the same White House not only failed to capture Osama bin Laden but began to state, fairly soon after 9/11, that capture of bin Laden was somehow unimportant or irrelevant to our national security. No administration official ever pointed out publicly that UBL might be a valuable source of information regarding terrorism. This implication that UBL was unimportant persisted throughout the Bush administration, along with vague suggestions that he was hidden in some hut in the Pak-Afghan mountains—despite signs of high production value in some of the ‘civilized office-type videos released by bin Laden.
- Bush-Cheney also failed to glean all possible information from bin Laden’s employees and relatives.
- Quite the contrary, immediately after 9/11 it helped to put highly placed Saudis in this country on planes, and flew them out of the U.S.
- Throughout its terms, the same administration prevented genuine interrogation of prisoners, by accredited professionals, in venues controlled by the U.S. government, including lawyers for the accused in the process. The effect has been to prevent discerning which individuals were culpable of what acts, and perhaps to conceal lack of evidence.
- The same administration fogged counter-terrorism and anti-terrorism efforts by detaining hundreds of innocent Middle Easterners, and by exploiting national security to issue dubious alerts and ex-post-facto anecdotes about evildoers chastised, politically timed. Karl Rove among others openly stated that the ‘war on terror’ was politically useful in elections.
- The administration also bullied and suppressed the intelligence community to obtain intelligence products politically and financially advantageous for itself. In doing so, it fragmented and crippled government agencies engaged in genuine intelligence, research and analysis.
- The same administration also allowed or caused investigation into the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole to be stymied.
- Administration fiscal policy supported business practices including off-shoring, outsourcing, and privatizing that undermine security at U.S. ports and borders.
- For obvious reasons, the administration failed to reveal and clarify what business ventures Bush, Cheney, and their cronies and relatives engaged in, including business associations with foreign businesses and governments.
- While calling on the general public to join in the ‘war on terror’ and to maintain vigilance, the administration opposed every move to open up transmission of valid information to the public.
All these issues raise questions still unanswered to this day, and all of them are relevant to security.
As said, political consequences are by no means the most important consequences. Still, the danger to our political system, the enfeebling of a vital participatory democracy that replaces its public officials rather than keeping them for life and makes their positions hereditary, is significant. Flying in the face of reason, evidence and common sense, the Bush White House got away for eight years with arguing that government secrecy must be the sign of something good. We’re doing this for you.
The argument would be reasonable if law enforcement and intelligence personnel were eager to admit incarcerating the wrong person or other mistakes. But observation and experience remind us that secrecy is much more often the sign of a cover-up than of anything effective, favorable or beneficial.
Questions remain regarding the Cole bombing; the assassination of Massoud at the same time as 9/11; the deaths of so many Loya Girga soon after 9/11; the head of the ISI in the U.S. during 9/11; the 9/11 hijackers’ involuntary trips around the U.S., including to Las Vegas; and Riggs Bank’s financing persons of interest. Questions still remain regarding the anthrax mailings. Questions still remain regarding vote suppression and other anti-election efforts under the previous administration. Questions remain about even the lead-up to the Iraq war and the conduct of the war, the issue that has been most nearly investigated thoroughly. Questions remain about the construction of the world’s biggest U.S. embassy in Iraq and about the construction of so many U.S. installations encircling Saudi Arabia.
It is an open shame that current GOP officeholders, probably all of them, are eagerly urging President Obama to ‘look forward’ rather than ‘backward’—the metaphor used to justify failing to apply reasonable standards of professional responsibility. But the Democrats have no obligation to go along with a rejection of accountability and a ratification of false history. Quite the contrary.
[This article, deleted by the system among hundreds of articles and blog posts in summer 2011, is re-posted using archives and Word files.]