Thursday, July 26, 2007

Acronyms and Other Toxins

Okay, so maybe it's a coincidence that the vice president's initials, "D.C." are also the initials following the name of the nation's capital. Likewise, it may also be coincidental that the attorney general's initials, " A.G.," not only stand for attorney general, but match his name: "Alberto Gonzales." Not to put too fine a point on this, one thing both fellows seem to share is the obdurate belief that theirs is an innate, and invincible claim to power. Since the nearly six year anniversary of 9/11, we've become a nation that has sought refuge in comfort food, and comfort acronyms; witness "TSP" for "Terrorist Surveillance Program," and "NSA" for National Security Agency."

But, it seems that the only qualifying factor, for this attorney-general, is that he happens to bear the same initials as the position he holds. Even a cursory look at the job description of a federal attorney-general is enough to make one shudder, especially when one considers the disparity between Mr. Gonzales' sworn testimony before the Senate earlier this week, and official documents that reveal there is cause for Congress to consider perjury charges against him. What exactly is the U.S. attorney general appointed to do? For openers, he (or she) must function as the primary law enforcement officer who represents the country in all legal affairs. The attorney general also heads the Justice Department. And, in addition to advising the president, the attorney general is the one who defends the executive branch, before the Supreme Court, should such such defense be necessary. So, what does it say when the attorney general himself not only lacks credibility, but is impeachable on charges of perjury and, quite possibly, obstruction of justice?

When members of the Senate, even some leading Republicans, now call for a special prosecutor to investigate "misconduct" at the very department that is under the aegis of the attorney general, this speaks to the corruption of the framework of government. The vice president's aide, I. Scooter Libby, was charged and convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was absolved by the self-same governing body that is now acting not only in contempt of Congress, but in defiance of the rule of law.

While many may have participated in the bungled burglary known as Watergate, it was the brain child of one former president, Richard Nixon. Clearly, the same does not hold true here. The contagion, in this government, results from a collaborative effort from which no member of the Bush administration may be said to be immune. One can only hope that the very fabric of our system of government can recover from thie virus of leadership that continues to damage us daily.

Senator Feingold is right to move for censure, and others are right to suggest impeachment, but when an attorney general refuses to step down in the face of the kind of controversy that would render any head of the Department of Justice impotent, and when a president provides shelter from prosecution for those closest to him who refuse to cooperate, and testify under a subpoena, Rep. Sensenbrenner is right to suggest that maybe it's up to the court to decide what constitutes "executive privilege," and what does not. If these constitutional matters do come before the Supreme Court, consider whose job it is to defend this executive branch, and consider the gravity of the Senate's call, earlier this week, to weigh charges of perjury against this attorney general.

There's no denying that we face the gravest threat to this Republic we've ever faced. The 2008 presidential election is a distraction from the continuing redefinition of "terror" threats to include what formerly came under the umbrella of criminal activity. The effort to blur the lines between national security, and law enforcement represents a deliberate, and methodical campaign, by this administration, to abandon reason, and oulaw dissent.