Payback time creeps closer for Bush and friends

Payback time creeps closer for Bush and friends

What was dismissed only a few months ago by leading Democrats in Washington as unthinkable now seems possible — that senior officials in the Bush administration, even Bush and Cheney, will be the target of public war-crime hearings and even criminal prosecutions here in the United States. Overseas is already dangerous terrain. George W. Bush’s first defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, fled Paris a couple of years ago to avoid honoring a subpoena from French investigators, replicating a similarly hasty exit from the French jurisdiction by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. For almost the entire four years of Bush’s second term, one of the main campaigns of the left was to pressure the Democratic leadership to support impeachment proceedings against the Republican president and vice president. Top Democrats such as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi nixed the idea. But following regime change in January, the prosecution of Bush and accomplices such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for instituting, supervising or condoning specific war crimes was the far more plausible option, mainly because it meant confronting targets no longer in power with the resources of the federal government at their beck and call. Last Wednesday,

Feb. 25, Pelosi was asked by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow what her reaction would be to any charges from the inspector general of the Justice Department, leveled at Republicans now in private life and busy writing their memoirs: Maddow: “If the [US Justice Department’s] inspector general report that comes out this summer suggests that there has been criminal activity at the official level on issues like torture, or wireless wiretapping, or rendition, or any of these other issues….” Pelosi: “No one is above the law. I think I have said that.” In active English, Pelosi’s pious phraseology about no one being “above the law” translates into something like “these guys are out of power and their popularity ratings are in the toilet so it’s safe to turn the dogs on them.” And to drive the point home, Pelosi said she had a problem with Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy’s plan for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Leahy’s comment that such a commission would make it “very clear to the next person, you try the same thing, you are going to be found out, you are going to be prosecuted.”

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