Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ashcroft: I Am The Law!

This is sort of old news, but I'm trying to get caught up here. So let me get this straight: The justice department evaluates the powers of the executive branch under the circumstances of the "War on Terror", and determines (what good luck for them) that the powers of the executive are unlimited and unrestricted by any law or convention. They can do whatever they damned well please, hurrah! They write a number of memos outlining this fact and documenting other useful bits of knowledge, including penning a definition of torture that would have exempted most of the Nazi doctors who experimented on concentration camp victims. These are then sent to the President, and, lo and behold, some number of months later egregious prisoner abuses are uncovered. Apparently there is still at least one person in the government in possession of a conscience (or more likely, an axe to grind), and the memos are leaked to the press. In view of events these memos appear to be fairly significant and worthy of some scrutiny, so the Senate decides they ought to take a look and request that they be given copies. Ashcroft declines, and rather than citing executive privilege or any legal basis for this denial, claims some sort of lawyer-client privilege between the president and the entire Justice Department. The Senate Judiciary Committee is apparently too dumbfounded by the absurdity of this claim to take any immediate action. Surely the public ridicule will convince Ashcroft to concede. But wait! Mere weeks later, in considering Vice President Cheney's refusal to turn over documents relating to the energy committee, the US Supreme Court vindicates Ashcroft by stating that rather than have awkward moments in which the various branches of the government have to check one another's power, we should just delegate to the executive whatever power they want so that we can avoid conflict. Long live the King! Am I pretty much on track here?

This is getting beyond absurd. In the immortal words of Barf from Spaceballs, "They've gone to plaid!" Are we generating some outrage yet? At what point do we get to the rioting in the streets? This is where we need a Democratic presidential candidate who can do outrage, and who can raise hell and make some waves. If this isn't a moment to point out just how dangerously far off the track we've gone, what is? And where's our candidate? Making minor campaign stops and lulling crowds to sleep all across the country, staying mostly out of the spotlight under the theory that the less the public sees him, the better he'll do. Thank god for Michael Moore. At least there's one person with the good sense to be royally pissed off by all this.

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