For whatever reason, the flouting of the rule of law has become a real issue for me, such that I was considering not voting for any candidates in the last election because they all supported some legislation stripping FISA of any oversight power. That, combined with the frankly disgraceful search to find some kind of legal justification for the conduct at Guantanamo, black sites, and Abu Ghraib, makes me really glad to see the major architects of these policies kicked out.
They serve the law. You forget that, and you forget the idea
This misses several things:
- You don't want your Justice Department to be on an anti-terrorism footing. That's for the military to handle. It involves pre-emption. It involves lack of evidence. It is not a judicial process: it's a mode of war. And while investigation into terrorist cells is necessary, the procedures to do that should be kept under the rule of law for fear of damaging civil liberties. After all, what will you do in the absence of these protections? Offer reparations to victims of government abuse? There have been no reports of that happening. Provide apologies? From this administration? And that is the exact problem. The role of war is political: it seeks political ends for political purposes. The role of law is social and systemic. It is meant to be above politics and provide a framework for participation. Once you start confusing that, as Gonzales, Yoo, and others have done, you've completely missed the point of the law.
- Many Republicans were calling for Gonzales to step down, and many Republican appointees were contradicting Gonzales' statements.
- The anti-terrorism bit, even if valid, wouldn't apply to the firing of U.S. Attorneys. What does that have to do with anti-terrorism? If the firing offenses weren't conduct or performance-related, then what was the issue? Anti-terrorism doesn't cover this scandal, and no one should feel any sympathy for Gonzales screwing himself over in his testimony.
This all goes to the separation of the political and the legal. Gonzales and all the "loyal Bushies" (Goodling, etc.) made the mistake of thinking they serve the President. They don't. They serve at the pleasure of the President. But they serve the law. You forget that, and you forget the idea of justice.