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Andrew Levine

Andrew Levine

Posted: December 3, 2010 04:44 PM

Say it ain't so, Eric Holder. After protecting George Bush and Bush era war criminals from justice -- in plain violation of American and international law, and common decency -- you are now talking about prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, notwithstanding that pesky First Amendment and the fact that you probably don't have jurisdiction anyway. And God help heroic Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, once the army is done with him and your Justice Department gets to work.

Well, here's the deal. Enlightening the public about how their government maneuvers, fumbles and lies is not a crime. Exposing the mendacity and corruption of world leaders is not a crime. Neither is exposing their servility before American power or the fact that many of the world's "sovereign states" are effectively vassals of the American empire. (By pressuring Sweden to smear Assange, and by getting it to issue an Interpol red alert for his detention, you're only making the point clearer.) And when it comes to embarrassing Hillary Clinton, well that is, as we say, a mitzvah, right up there with annoying Joe Lieberman and the entire Republican caucus.

Could it be, as so many are coming to think, that you are not a principled law enforcement officer after all, but just a political hack? The politics behind going after WikiLeaks and not Bush is clear enough. As the Obama administration lunges ever more rightward day by day, revealing Obama's unwillingness even to try to govern in the face of Republican obduracy, all that remains in Obama's favor is the incontrovertible argument that he's "better than Bush." But even that truism is in trouble if it turns out that the Obama administration is as incompetent, indeed as risible, as its predecessor. Since the BP oil spill, it's been looking that way. Keystone cops feeling up passengers at airports doesn't help either. And now that we know that the Clinton state department can't even keep its own internal messaging secure, just how much more competent can the Obama administration claim to be?

If you really want to prosecute criminals who have done grave harm to the United States and the world, instead of going after the good guys what about rethinking your decision to let the Bush criminal enterprise walk? Two years ago, Vincent Bugliosi, Charles Manson's nemesis, published a book about how almost any prosecutor in the United States could convict George Bush for murder. We'll never know if he was right -- no one was courageous enough to try.

Lets say he wasn't right. And lets "stipulate," as you lawyers say, that, for good or ill, the legal system is not equipped to deal with crimes like unleashing murder and mayhem upon the world or crashing the world economy. Because our never very democratic political institutions have become dysfunctional, Bush and Cheney and the others can't feasibly be held to account politically for those (non-actionable) crimes either; not without "regime change." Nevertheless, in 2008, a majority of voters tried; they elected Barack Obama, hoped for the best, and got more of the same.

But this needn't mean that Bush gets to walk; not since Decision Points appeared. There he boasts about having approved water-boarding -- something the entire civilized world, even you, deems torture. He continues to boast everywhere he goes to drum up sales. If that's not a confession to a felony, then what is! With that statement in hand, any of your unpaid interns should be able to put George Bush away for the rest of his wretched life. You wouldn't even need to call on a senior lawyer for help -- a good thing too since morale must be low over at the justice department now that, to please "bipartisan" deficit looneys, Obama froze all federal workers' pay. Is "unions be damned" the administration's new motto? Or is it "millions for billionaires, not one penny of tribute for anybody else"? Or are Obama's spin doctors still babbling on about "change we can believe in"?

If you were half the attorney general the people who voted for Obama thought you would be -- or if Obama was half the president voters expected -- you and he would be out now calling for "two, three, many WikiLeaks," and Bush and Cheney and the rest of them would be doing perp walks in orange jumpsuits.

You can still make it happen. Or you can resign yourself to becoming a sorry footnote in the profile in spinelessness that the Obama administration has become. It's your choice.