We should also note that Pelosi has showed her pragmatism and bipartisan qualities in now promising to go after New York Democratic congressperson Charles Rangel, “after a wide-ranging House investigation into ethical questions” (Raymond Hernandez, “Pelosi says Inquiry Into Ethics Questions Concerning Rangel Will Move Swiftly,” NYT, November 27, 2008), while maintaining her “off the table” stance for Bush impeachment for serial violations of the U.S. Constitution, the UN Charter, and the Geneva Agreements. Of course, Pelosi going after the Bush-Cheney cabal for violation of the Geneva Agreements would have run into the problem that while on the House Intelligence Committee she was told about the use of water-boarding in 2002 and did not object. Prosecution of Bush and Cheney for such legal violations would have been awkward not only on water-boarding, but based on Democratic votes on war funding, the PATRIOT Act, and the Military Commissions Act. Illegal war, constitution busting, and torture have been bipartisan.
One of the most depressing features of the 2008 election was that “liberal” San Francisco Democrats voted Pelosi back to the House in a crushing primary victory over Cindy Sheehan and then in an easy victory in the general election as well. Pelosi should actually be impeached for her failure to pursue a Bush-Cheney impeachment, given her obligation to uphold the Constitution. Pelosi epitomizes Democratic pragmatism, bipartisanship, and the sellout of ordinary citizens, but she thrives—is easily reelected, was lauded by Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen (“Pelosi Leads Democrats With Progressive Politics,” Public Citizen, September-October 2007), and was even invited to speak at a gathering of liberal media activists at the Kos-organized Net-Roots Nation conference in Austin, Texas in July 2007.
It is interesting that for a target country, like Serbia, or with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (Kampuchea), “moving forward” somehow requires that villains be tried and punished for past crimes so that victims can be satisfied with some kind of “justice” and potential villains can learn that crime doesn’t pay. But the idea that this might apply to the United States is confined to a fringe left and a human rights body like Amnesty International, which calls for precisely what the United States and its toadies call for in the case of targets—”criminal investigations…reject impunity for crimes under international law…ensure that victims of human rights violations…will have meaningful access to redress and remedy” (AI, “USA: Counter Terror with Justice: A checklist for the next US President,” November 5, 2008).
Bush, Cheney, and company are not only not removed from office before their term is up, or threatened with prosecution later, they can continue to enact rules and orders benefiting their cronies, at taxpayer expense, up to their last moment in office and without impediment. The real surprise is that they haven’t started another war, though they may still do that (this is written on December 4, 2008). But they have proved that in this country and in this global environment, U.S. leaders can get away with huge crimes, endless lying, facilitating massive crony capitalist theft, and constitution busting. There seems to be no impunity limit for U.S. leaders that serve the military-industrial complex and business and financial elite so well, even if crudely, incompetently, and perhaps even to elite disadvantage.
Although George Bush I was exceedingly vulnerable to an investigation of his relations with Saddam Hussein (weapons supply and loans), the Clinton administration declined to pursue this, in a familiar (Democratic) act of bipartisanship. Clinton was rewarded by steady Republican attacks, regular non-cooperation, even a temporary government shutdown, and eventually impeachment. The likelihood that President Obama will support the investigation and prosecution of the Bush-Cheney administration’s far more extensive and serious crimes is close to zero. Two Obama advisers have reportedly stated, “There’s little, if any, chance” of the Obama administration prosecuting those who authorized or implemented torture (Lara Jakes Jordan, “Obama advisers: No charges likely against workers who authorized harsh interrogation methods,” AP, November 18, 2008): it would violate the principles of bipartisanship so dear to the Democrats and encouraged by the media. And the Democrats are not only badly compromised themselves, they too have internalized the belief that international law does not apply to this country. Hence, “justice” for “them,” “impunity” for “us.”
We seem to be entering another era of Democratic “moves to the center” and, instead of “creating a new reality,” adjustment to the existing reality of power.
Edward S. Herman is an author, economist, political columnist, and media critic. Posted by Bulatlat.com