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May 25, 2007

Law As Inconvenience
Posted by David Schanzer

Of all the harm the Bush Administration has inflicted on our global reputation, perhaps its greatest offense has been the damage caused to the respect other nations once had for our committment to the rule of law.

Maybe this is to be expected, coming from a presidency born of a Supreme Court case so lacking in principle the Court disavowed the case had any precedential value.  Still, the Administration's utter disdain of the law is simply staggering. 

Unhappy with a legal ruling on domestic spying from the Department of Justice, try to convince a recused, drugged up official to reverse it; fed up with prosecutors who won't use raw political power to influence elections, fire them and then lie about the reasons for the dismissals; inconvenienced by a civil service containing lawyers that don't share your political views, send a neophyte hack to prevent them from advancing their careers; longstanding treaty obligations get in the way of your favored interrogation techniques, ignore them and claim unlimited executive authority to do so; pesky courts preventing you from rushing accused war criminals through show trials, strip the courts of there centuries-old jurisdiction; pesky lawyers effectively asserting their clients' rights, intimidate their employers; Congress passes a law you don't like, claim authority to disregard it.

With the background of this record, the Administration then goes on to call on other countries to hold free and fair elections, establish independent courts, eliminate corruption, and abide by the rule of law.  It may take many, many years to reestablish our credibility on these most vital issues.    


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Wes Clark recently gave a speech on a similar vein, saying that American foreign policy needs to restore America's legitimacy (obviously based on the rule of law).

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