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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Banana Republics Prosecute the Prior Administration

They say that elections have consequences. That's true. With every new administration there is a new set of policies. Bush had policies that he went forward with and now Obama has a whole different set of policies. In banana republics, elections also have consequences. In those countries, policy differences are prosecuted. Throughout Africa and in parts of South America, with each new administration, there is a set of indictments and convictions of previous administrations.

I have said that if in fact CIA agents were rogue and not following orders they should be prosecuted. Yet, there is a very troubling aspect to this. The Bush justice department took a look at the cases that are in question and decided that only one person faced prosecution. This individual did and is currently incarcerated. So, why are we reviewing these cases again? It wasn't as though only political appointees looked at these cases? It was career lawyers as well as political appointees. Was everyone incompetent and or corrupt? So, why is the Obama justice department suddenly in need of reviewing these cases? How many times will they be reviewed?

It's one thing to change policies you disagree with. The Obama administration believes that we can extract information from terrorists through the same means that police use to extract information from criminals. That's their right and that is the policy they are choosing. Yet, Attorney General Eric Holder wants to take it a step further. He wants to review how the previous administration reviewed its own policies. Nothing has changed. The evidence hasn't changed. When Bush Justice Department lawyers looked at it they only prosecuted one person. Now, Obama Justice Department lawyers want to potentially prosecute even more.

The political dance doesn't stop there. Holder doesn't want to prosecute anyone just yet. Instead, he has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter. This is after he investigated the matter to see if there is any wrongdoing. So, let's take stock. Bush administration lawyers looked at the evidence and found one person that needed to be prosecuted. Then, Holder investigated the cases again. He didn't find enough evidence to prosecute, but rather enough evidence to investigate some more. That's two different administrations that have investigated the matter and still that's not enough investigation.

This isn't quite prosecuting the prior administration for policy differences but frankly, that's an impossibility in the U.S. This is as close as we will get. It would be far too explosive to actually prosecute prior Bush officials. This is the second best choice. Instead, this administration purports to prosecute those the Bush administration investigated and didn't prosecute. It's the only way to prosecute the Bush administration. Furthermore, Holder continues to say that he is following the law, implying that Bush didn't. Yet, while following the law, he won't actually indict anyone himself. By following the law, he means that after his own investigation he thinks that more investigation is warranted. What sort of law tells the Justice Department to engage in endless investigations?

Endless investigations are the hallmark of witch hunts. We are not quite into the category of banana republics. It's unlikely that the U.S. would ever get there. This is the closest thing that we will get. Going after Bush is too overt. Even going after the lawyers is too overt. Instead, there is an endless investigation that will investigate that which has already been investigated. The problem is that once you go down that slippery slope there are all sorts of unintended consequences. The next administration will investigate Obama for forcing people to buy health insurance Unconstitutionally. Once you open the door on prosecuting policy differences that door won't ever close and we never know what will be opened once the door is opened.

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