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Crossing Bush’s Line

Constitution in perilHeads up: Jane Hamsher is on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning.

What will it take for the major US media to acknowledge that the Bush/Cheney regime’s actions and views on the limits of executive power represent an unprecedented threat to America’s Constitutional democracy, its national security, and its moral standing in the world?

When asked recently whether Pakistan’s General Musharrif had gone too far in crushing democratic opposition, President Bush said Musharrif had not yet “crossed the line,” even though the military dictator had forcibly replaced the Supreme Court; jailed lawyers, judges, and opposition leaders; banned demonstrations; and shut down any independent media. One wonders whether Mr. Bush has a line that can be crossed as long as the executive claims its actions are in furtherance of fighting “terrorism.”

The Bush/Cheney regime’s misguided terror war was the stated justification for invading Iraq, overthrowing its government, and establishing an indefinite occupation that has seen hundreds of thousands of people killed, even more wounded and millions displaced from their homes. The Administration propagated phony intelligence, relying on forged documents and confessions obtained under torture to justify an aggressive war, but none of that crossed Mr. Bush’s line.

To cover up these lies, Bush and Cheney’s minions recklessly exposed an American covert agent, then lied about it and sent the President’s Press Secretary to lie to continue the coverup. When Libby was convicted of lying about these events, the President made sure Libby would never talk by commuting his sentence. But none of that crossed the President’s line.

By leaving a large occupying army in Iraq to prop up a divisive Shia regime, the Administration created a magnet for hundreds of foreign fighters from North Africa to the Arabian peninsula. These Sunni fighters apparently comprised the core of suicide bombers that accounted for a large majority of bombing attacks on American soldiers. Over 3860 Americans have been killed; over 28,000 30,000 seriously wounded [plus 20,000 with previously unrecognized brain injuries]; but none of this crosses the President’s line.

The regime has systematically violated the Constitution by illegally spying on Americans and gutting the Fourth Amendment. It has revoked habeas corpus, violated criminal felony statutes, sanctioned war crimes, made a mockery of detainee criminal trials, and politicized the justice system so badly that no one can trust the integrity of its prosecutions — but none of that crossed the line.

The Administration has so corrupted the Justice Department that it now functions as a violator of civil liberties and voting rights, rather than the defender it is supposed to be, but that hasn’t crossed the line.

This Administration sanctions kidnapping, rendition, torture, secret prisons, indefinite detention without trials, and kangaroo courts. It has ordered indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas, deliberately killing innocent civilians. If there is any remaining moral distinction between these US actions, sanctioned by this Administration, and those of regimes the US Government designates as state sponsors of terrorism, it is hard to make it out — and yet that has not crossed the line.

So what does this President count as crossing the line? Here’s a small fraction of things Mr. Bush has stopped:

— Providing health care for uninsured children through a successful federal-state insurance program

— Providing adequate funding for rebuilding public infrastructure in New Orleans — or anywhere else

— Requiring safer products and adequate inspections, improving auto gas mileage, taking meaningful steps to reverse potentially catastrophic global climate change

— Requiring that US troops receive adequate rest and retraining between multiple combat deployments

— Requiring that US troops phase out unnecessary combat actions in Iraq’s civil wars

— Disclosing Justice Department opinions that sanction torture

— Giving Congress access to executive branch records needed for Congressional oversight

— Allowing senior White House officials to testify before Congress, even when subpoened.

America’s Constitutional system, its laws and democratic institutions are under siege by a lawless, radical regime that ignores all constitutional limits on its actions and treats the rule of law with contempt. If this were happening in Pakistan, everyone involved in the legal/justice system would be protesting in the streets, if not already in jail, and the entire mainstream media except for the equivalent of Fox News would be shut down. Genuinely democratic nations would withdraw support.

But this is not Pakistan; it’s happening here, in America. Isn’t it time the media stopped covering stories about this President pardoning a turkey and started demanding an end to this lawless regime?

Photo: Damien Donck, in Newsweek, via Renegade 98 “The Constitution in Peril,”

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley