Laws have two basic functions; one is to inform as to the rules of the society and the other is to indicate the seriousness with which those rules are regarded. If a law is claimed to be essential and yet is not enforced by using state power to demonstrate the seriousness with which society holds the law, then it is no law and only a suggestion. Since laws tend to be created about things that people actually do, often for personal gain, things that destabilize or disrupt social functioning, the failure to enforce laws is certain to increase the incidence of and danger from the prohibited action.
The essay that began this blog, A Question, opens with: ‘“Is it possible in today’s political climate to apply the rule of law to the powerful?” If it is not, then this nation is only a structure of power-relationships that adapts to the exigencies of subterfuge and force.’
I think it a pretty simple proposition: if the economically and politically powerful are not subject to the rule of law it is only a short matter of time before there will be nothing left of democratic design and rule of law that gave hope and security to our daily lives.
It has been clear from before the 2000 election, and abundantly clear after, that the Bush administration was a criminal enterprise flaunting law and assuming royal prerogative, literally in the manner of a despotism: Cheney’s energy task-force, which we now have very good reason to believe was dividing up Iraqi and other middle eastern oil properties, refused legal oversight; the many violations of law in the run up to the Iraq war and questionable dealings even in the funding and movements in Afghanistan. It is a long list, and here, available at various sites on the Web.
It is my belief that the promise of the United States of America, as compromised as that promise has been, will be irrevocably lost if Bush, Cheney, Rove, Addington and others are not prosecuted for their crimes in office. I, frankly, see no way that the nation will recover. The U.S. constitution cannot function as a series of suggestions.
In the very most generous interpretation, that laws were broken to protect US citizens and business, there is still no defense. Lawlessness at this political level can tolerate no assertions of ignorance of either the intent of the law or options for gaining full legal authority if some change in the application of law was actually needed. These people willingly violated the letter and spirit of not only statutory law, but also the Constitution and its established interpretations. They can have no defense other than innocence – there are no mitigating circumstances. This is not a matter of being unsure of what the law was. They clearly knew demonstrated by their active efforts to cover up, hide and obscure rather than openly explain their concerns and find lawful means to deal with those concerns. Their criminality was against us all; against the very fabric of our society.