But at this point, all of that is moot - even though technically a Democratic president, a Democratic Attorney General, and a larger Democratic Congress can step up and at least mark some of the criminals that infested this Executive Branch over the past 8 years tagged with the stain of their heinous behaviors.
At this point, “we” have already lost in the court of public opinion. “We” most certainly do torture. “We” certainly knew that a hurricane was about to devastate an entire region of the country. “We” manufacture evidence to invade other countries on false pretenses. “We” are arrogant, belligerent and stubborn.
But there is a difference between “we” and “they”. At this point, “they” have already lost even more in the court of public opinion. “They” knew. “They” outed a CIA operative and an entire network of covert operations. “They” tried to find a justification for their sadistic tendencies and be able to torture others. And then “they” destroyed the evidence.
The list of known criminal activity is really endless. Illegal spying. Criminal negligence in so many areas - Katrina, 9/11 are the two most obvious. Ignoring subpoenas. Stealing not one, not two but three elections (Georgia 2002, anyone?). Attorneys General lying to Congress. Attorneys General tacitly approving of torture. “Fixing the facts around the policy”. Illegally declassifying information. Obstructing justice with respect to the Plame investigation. Obstructing justice with the destroyed emails. Obstructing justice with the destroyed CIA torture tapes.
And that is merely the tip of the iceberg.
If we were to expand this to things that are so morally reprehensible, even a “not guilty” verdict could not even begin to negate the absolute necessity of holding criminals accountable for their criminal activity. It is morally imperative if this democracy (little and big “d”) is to survive. It is mandatory if our Constitution is to have any further meaning. It is a required step in order for us to have any semblance of credibility or voice, or even to participate in world affairs.
One’s world standing, coupled with militaristic leaders and an aggressive foreign policy are a toxic mix. Nobody survives - at least not in the same shape and with the same standing as they were before such actions. The Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, Germany, even Saddam in 1991 are all good examples. And there are many, many others. To think that the United States - with its arrogant, hypocritical, belligerent and reckless foreign policy (both historically and more importantly, recently) could not befall the same fate is both arrogant and foolish. In fact, it is already happening on the global economic scale, and it is bankrupting this country at home.
If the illegal behavior is not confronted in a meaningful way, then that only shows approval and complicity. There is no “moral standing” when the President of the United States admits that he approved of torture - especially when he is not held accountable. There is no “moral standing” when private contractors murder innocent Iraqis and threaten our own Armed Forces - especially when it is known throughout the world and nothing is done to hold anyone accountable. There is no “moral standing” when hundreds of thousands of innocent people are displaced, left with broken lives and are murdered based on lies. There is no “moral standing” when bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban are allowed to reconstitute, strengthen and attack our troops and allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan - especially when we talk about fighting terrorism while we ignore it.
“They” did all of this. Willfully. Purposely. For their own personal gain, or own sick twisted jollies. “They” did it all in our names. “They” even did it in not one (Reagan), not two (HW Bush) not three (Ford) but in four prior administrations (Nixon). “Their” actions over the past 40 years, and especially the past 8, are a reflection on this country’s standing in the world. The fact that we are in such economic peril makes it even worse.
And everybody disapproves of it. What is the approval rating, 20%? This country finds their actions despicable. The entire world finds their actions despicable. The entire world knows they committed crimes - war crimes, lying to the world community, illegal use of chemical weapons, murdering innocent people. Most of this country knows that torture is illegal. Most of this country knows that illegal spying is, well, illegal. Most of this country knows that obstructing justice, destroying evidence and stealing elections is illegal. And most of this country (I still hope) thinks that this type of behavior should not be ignored.
It is a long road back to respectability - both here in the US in terms of the “rule of law” and around the world in the eyes of the global community. There is too much at stake to be held in such low regard. There is too much at stake to be pushed aside. And there is too much at stake to put ourselves at such a disadvantage when it comes to foreign relations.
The world knows that top level “leaders” of this country broke numerous laws - some very heinous laws, and committed atrocities on many levels. And that they admitted to not only doing so, but making a premeditated decision to do so. We will never be taken seriously and will be at a substantial disadvantage if we don’t repair our image and hold criminals accountable.
Hell, let Attorney General John Edwards appoint one of the US attorneys that was fired as a special prosecutor. A “not guilty” verdict will not be looked at as vindication. The process will be looked at as a spotlight on the criminal behaviors that have permeated this Government over the past few years. It will show that we still care about what is right and what is wrong.