There is obviously no limit to the political left’s bloodlust for all things George W. Bush, as witnessed by two news items this week. If Barack Obama is as levelheaded and pragmatic as his supporters insist, he’ll have his work cut out for him dealing with these avengers on his side of the ideological spectrum.
On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued a 500-page report, whose executive summary boasts "was drafted to itemize and document the various abuses that occurred during the Bush Administration." The report recommends "that the new Administration conduct an independent criminal inquiry into whether any laws were broken in connection with these activities."
The same day, Slate magazine published an op-ed by Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman suggesting that 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee be impeached, essentially because "he was responsible for the notorious torture memos that enabled the excesses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places."
Both of these items are equally outrageous and demonstrate the potential dangerousness of leftists in power. How ironic that the gravamen of each complaint is an alleged abuse of power while its recommended remedy would constitute a worse abuse (the criminalization of policy differences), especially considering the weakness of the complaints.
The Conyers vendetta seeks to criminally probe Bush officials involved with the National Security Agency’s surveillance program, the tough interrogation techniques of enemy combatants, the manipulation of intelligence, the firing of U.S. attorneys, and other matters.
The report protests that its purpose "is not payback, but to uphold the rule of law. … Such an effort would be a welcome sign to our friends, and a warning to our foes, that this Nation can indeed serve as a beacon of liberty and freedom without weakening our ability to combat terrorism or other threats."
Oh, yes, I’m sure al-Qaida is quaking in its boots at the prospect of indictments of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for implementing policies they deemed necessary — and which have proved to be immensely successful — to thwart terrorism and safeguard the United States. Fitting the outgoing administration for orange jumpsuits would surely be a stern "warning to our foes."
If the NSA’s warrantless wiretap procedure were so threatening to our civil liberties, liberals wouldn’t have to mischaracterize it as domestic spying on innocent old ladies, as opposed to the monitoring of terrorist communications into the United States for the purpose of preventing attacks. If it were such an abuse of executive power, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review wouldn’t have reaffirmed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to monitor these international communications without permission from the court.
If Rep. Conyers were so worried about the president’s almost unfettered right to fire U.S. attorneys, as opposed to playing partisan politics, he would have fiercely objected when President Clinton fired them all at the beginning of his tenure.
If President Bush and his crew manipulated intelligence, which has always been a malicious slander, then so must have the major intelligence agencies of all other major nations in the world, which independently reached the same conclusions about Iraqi WMD. An uncanny coincidence, indeed.
If waterboarding — which was used exceedingly sparingly by this administration — based on authorizing legal opinions and which produced lifesaving results is so immoral, what alternatives do our feckless domestic enemies propose for gleaning information that would have prevented these attacks? Are they sorry, on balance, that lives were saved that would not have otherwise been saved?
This returns us to the Ackerman op-ed urging impeachment of Judge Bybee for "his legal distortions" concerning those "torture memos." In the liberal spirit of declaring their opinions the only reasonable opinions — as with global warming — Ackerman apparently believes that any lawyer who opines that tough interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, do not constitute torture is guilty of legal distortion and is "a systematic enabler of the war crimes that have disgraced America." Ackerman allows that Bybee "may have acted in good faith," but his opinion "fails minimum tests of legal competence."
There you have it. If you disagree with this liberal professor about an issue on which reasonable people clearly disagree, you are incompetent, and unless you can demonstrate your good faith, you should be punished. The gracious professor Ackerman tells us that we shouldn’t be too concerned for Bybee because "impeachment should not be confused with criminal prosecution." Phew. Now I feel better.
Though Obama has made clear on several occasions that he agrees with Conyers’ positions, he is probably too shrewd to go along with his recommendations because it might interfere with his much more ambitious goals of nationalizing health care, instituting his new New Deal, and liberalizing even further the nation’s pro-abortion policies. Some consolation.
Either way, don’t underestimate the left’s manifest willingness to criminalize and otherwise punish dissent from their dogma.