This morning’s senate judiciary hearing, where Attorney General Mukasey was the featured witness, alongside last week’s presidential signing statement that attached to President Bush’s recent signing into law of the military budget bill, brought again into focus just how decrepit and egregious has been this administrations behaviors over the past seven years.
I’ve heard it from the Right side of the radio dial — Recalling the Godfather’s admonition to keep your friends close, your enemies closer . . . Yes! I do tune in from time to time — how the anti-American, liberal, ineffective congress and the New York Times have sought to thwart the administration’s efforts to protect this country. Essentially, almost anything the far-Right leaning Bush Administration might partake, save an ostentatious show of brown jackboots goose-stepping down Pennsylvania Avenue, is A-okay. And as to the jackboots goose-stepping . . . ostensibly, that would be opposed only by dint that its ostentatious display would render its agenda plain for none to plausibly deny. So, “signing statements, schmining statements . . .”
Up front, the reach of the administration beyond constitutionally provided limits is not a Republican/Democratic-Democratic/Republican issue, nor any combination of liberal versus conservative and vice-versa construct problems. It is simple: it is a matter that goes to the very soul of what this country was to be and ever become. The framers, long in history suffering the abuses of a British monarch, most intentionally placed the legislative chambers — the peoples house, the House of Representatives first, the Senate, the cooling saucer, second — as Article I in the constitution, and the executive branch as Article II. Contrary to a convenient current notion, that was no accident.
Also contrary to numerous vociferously voiced opinions, what others around the world think of US does matter. That’s even especially so when it comes to despotic, authoritarian governments. As the old saw observes, those who ride the back of a tiger must be very careful they do not fall off. It is not rare that leaders who have been perceived by the populations they rule to have cooperated with the United States to be dispatched with great prejudice once they have been removed from their perch. Thus, our national security verily depends on how we are viewed.
A parenthetical observation seems in order here. Too much we are filled with the grist from the Hollywood mills; the ticking bomb that must be diffused in order to save an entire city. Such a scenario presumes entire tomes of contradictions and deep ventures into the utterly absurd. How do you know there is such a bomb, and that it is ticking, and how much time is left before detonation?
Nonetheless, during today’s hearing, when the matter of water-boarding was raised, whether the administration or the attorney general regarded it as torture, the attorney general scrambled through a labyrinthine course of commas and apostrophes seeking an exit. He just would not say it was, regardless that it has been held to constitute torture by the government of the United States, from the first days when our government was established. Moreover, when the simplified question was put to him — if he was water-boarded, would he consider it torture — he would not answer without sidestep dancing all around the hearing room.
To repeat: this is not a liberal Democrat versus conservative Republican issue. Lindsey Graham, the very conservative South Carolina Republican— yet active in the Air National Guard as a JAG officer — has been extraordinarily succinct: water-boarding IS torture, and we don’t do that because we cannot defeat our enemies by becoming like them. Even parsing the question around the bramble bush places Americans, our military, and those who assist us in grave peril.
Senators Spector (R – PA) and Grassley (R – IA) were visibly chagrined how the administration has repeatedly stiffed the coequal branch by refusing to provide information the committees with jurisdiction had a right to. Nearly a year had passed since requests had been made for documentation when they received part of it only four days ago. When asked when they could anticipate receiving the remaining portions, they were advised by the AG that it was “classified.” Not just the information, which, as vetted members with clearances equal to that of the president and anyone else in government, but the time when they could expect to receive it was as well!
One falls back, collapsing in dismay over the sheer arrogance.
And all of this dovetails with the news, released this morning, that the military budget noted earlier, the budget that provide the US not construct “permanent bases in Iraq,” was followed by a signing statement wherein the president asserted he had no intention of abiding that provision. In other words, the middle-finger to you, “I’ll do what I damn well please.” Also within the budget agreement that President Bush stated he had no obligation to follow were provisions for a commission to investigate “waste, fraud and abuse” by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what had been done to hold them accountable. Another provision the president asserted would not be permitted to bind him was the stipulation that his administration provide, within 45 days of the issuance of a request by the Armed Forces Committees for information, with (A.) the information sought, or (B.) an explanation why such information would not be forthcoming.
All with any interest in what the administration does, which ought to be everyone, have been chronically visited with manifest evidence the administration holds itself responsible to no one. Just the same, such flagrant pronouncements that the entire world can “go to hell” irritates like hell. And noon, January 20, next year cannot arrive a moment too soon for us to see this hell come to an end at last.
— Ed Tubbs