Monday, August 21, 2006

downright criminal 2

Glenn Greenwald takes a look at the mindset that enables a certain criminal.

The Justice Department lawyers who approved this illegal program, the political officials who ordered it, and the journalists who defended it (and have enabled this presidency) are all part of the same circle, and the very suggestion that any of this is actually criminal -- even though it is all being done in violation of the crystal clear criminal law -- is just too unpleasant, too unruly, too disruptive to admit. As Turley puts it: "The question of the president's possible criminal acts has long been the pig in the parlor that polite people in Congress refused to acknowledge."

But Judge Taylor's ruling -- with its very un-Beltway irreverence towards the President, and free of the fear of describing the President's lawbreaking as what it is -- is forcing that question out into the open, which is what explains so much of the hostility towards Judge Taylor. This judge, unknown to the Important People in academia and the political power centers, sitting in her little Detroit courtroom, has broken the rules. She used language which is uncouth (she pointed out the obvious -- that this President has pretenses to being a King) and refused to pay homage to the false orthodoxy that there are really difficult questions triggered by the President's refusal to abide by the criminal law. How irresponsible, unscholarly and unserious she is.


That is exactly what is driving the reaction to this court ruling as well. Notwithstanding all of the professorial angst-ridden deliberations, the NSA scandal is and always has been extremely simple. Congress, by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, passed a law 30 years ago making it a felony to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants and George Bush got caught violating that law -- a law nobody ever suggested was invalid until he got caught violating it. People who violate criminal laws are criminals, even if -- at least in the United States -- they hold high government positions. In decisive and unapologetic tones, Judge Taylor ruled -- consistent with the consensus of most legal experts -- that the President has been continuously breaking the law without any excuse, and that is something which our pundit and political classes simply want to ignore.

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