By Dr Paul Craig Roberts
November 14, 2010
Ten years of rule by the Bush and Obama regimes have seen the collapse of the rule of law in the United States. Is the American media covering this ominous and extraordinary story? No, the American media is preoccupied with the rule of law in Burma (Myanmar).
The military regime that rules Burma just released from house arrest the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The American media used the occasion of her release to get on Burma’s case for the absence of the rule of law. I’m all for the brave lady, but if truth be known, “freedom and democracy” America needs her far worse than does Burma.
I’m not an expert on Burma, but the way I see it the objection to a military government is that the government is not accountable to law. Instead, such a regime behaves as it sees fit and issues edicts that advance its agenda. Burma’s government can be criticized for not having a rule of law, but it cannot be criticized for ignoring its own laws. We might not like what the Burmese government does, but, precisely speaking, it is not behaving illegally.
In contrast, the United States government claims to be a government of laws, not of men, but when the executive branch violates the laws that constrain it, those responsible are not held accountable for their criminal actions. As accountability is the essence of the rule of law, the absence of accountability means the absence of the rule of law.
The list of criminal actions by presidents Bush and Obama, Vice President Cheney, the CIA, the NSA, the US military, and other branches of the government is long and growing. For example, both president Bush and vice president Cheney violated US and international laws against torture. Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union responded to Bush’s recent admission that he authorized torture with calls for a criminal investigation of Bush’s crime.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU reminded the US Department of Justice (sic)that “a nation committed to the rule of law cannot simply ignore evidence that its most senior leaders authorized torture.”
Rob Freer of Amnesty International said that Bush’s admission “to authorizing acts which constitute torture under international law” and which constitute “a crime under international law,” puts the US government “under obligation to investigate and to bring those responsible to justice.”
The ACLU and Amnesty International do not want to admit it, but the US government shed its commitment to the rule of law a decade ago when the US launched its naked aggression — war crimes under the Nuremberg standard — against Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis of lies and deception.
The US government’s contempt for the rule of law took another step when President Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and had the National Security Agency bypass the FISA court and spy on Americans without warrants. The New York Times is on its high horse about the rule of law in Burma, but when a patriot revealed to the Times that Bush was violating US law, the Times’ editors sat on the leak for one year until after Bush was safely re-elected.
Holder, of course, will not attempt to hold Bush accountable for the crime of torture. Indeed, Assistant US Attorney John Durham has just cleared the CIA of accountability for its crime of destroying the videotape evidence of the US government’s illegal torture of detainees, a felony under US law…
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