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Closer to the edge than we thought

In one of those quietly terrifying page-one stories in the March 3 New York Times, we learn that G.W. Bush's crack legal team advised him, after 9/11, that, among other unheard-of things, he could use the US military to conduct warrantless domestic searches in the name of fighting terrorists. (See Memos Reveal Scope of Power Bush Sought in Fighting Terror.) The fact that any kid who got even a C in eighth-grade civics class could tell you that such behavior is illegal for, like, more than several reasons, is irrelevant, since we all know that asking these legal experts for an opinion was a sham in the first place.

The article goes on to confirm what we always suspected, namely that the Cheney-Bush squad was, literally, pulling a Hitler, and there was a lot less between us and a better-armed version of the SS than we imagined. The names involved in this power-play are familiar -- John Yoo (a/k/a Mr. Torture Is Good), Alberto "My Way or the Highway" Gonzales, etc.  And in the end, it all dissolves in bunch of legal hair-splitting, which may be a legit (if distasteful) courtroom gambit, but has no place in the discussion of constitutional subversion, abuse of power, and robbing citizens of their rights (without even asking). 

Online, the Times goes on to ask an obvious question: should Congress investigate all this (and more) by establishing a "truth commission," or, they suggest, is it time to move on?

Unfortunately, both things are true. It is time to move on. Congress has more immediate things to do cleaning up the mess the past eight years enabled. On the other hand, letting these jerks get away with things even Richard Nixon would have found abhorrent is neither just nor helpful. True enough, President Obama (a chief-exec acting on our behalf, for a change) can't afford to push Congress back into the tit-for-tat partisan stalemate that bred clowns like Ken Starr. Alas, our man Barack's stuck on the high road for pragmatic reasons. Still, somebody, should be digging for the truth; and somebody should be punishing the bandits who sold the rest of us out so they could channel all our money to their cronies.

Perhaps private lawsuits are the answer. Drag those bastards into court as witnesses and then get them to confess or get them for perjury. Even as these abuses are slowly coming out, some poor rights-violated war protestor is well on his way to getting Cheney on the stand. (See Cheney Deposition Is Ordered in Lawsuit by Protestor, also in the NYT.) And if that doesn't work, how about this? We round up the entire Bush administration on suspicion of treason, declare them enemy combatants, and detain them without representation for eight years. That'll teach 'em. Or at least keep them in sight.

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