Alberto Gonzales is a traitor. That is the only word to explain it.
He is not the only one; there are many more traitors like him in the Bush administration, criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen.
Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal. There is no code, ordinance or law specifically forbidding the total ruination of all our rights and protections; the act is neither felony nor misdemeanor, because nobody ever considered the black-letter necessity of making it illegal to destroy the rule of law.
But there is no America without that rule of law - no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself. The only word for a crime like that is treason, and those who would dare commit it are traitors. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have done more than dare. They have been pursuing it, with deliberation and intent, throughout each moment of their tenure.
"[T]hroughout each moment of their tenure." This, to me, is a key point. We keep hearing the nauseous refrain, Nine eleven changed everything. If I object that Alberto Gonzales was instrumental in providing the "legal" pretext for using torture, the Bush-clones come back with Nine Eleven Changed Everything. But what "President" Bush and his gang were up to--subverting the rule of law and placing a veil of absolute secrecy between them and the people--started before the events of 11 September. From the moment Bush seized power he and his gang of merry men and women have done everything possible to subvert the rule of law in this once-great nation. Now, back to Pitt:
Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them. Their treason is not their refusal to obey the Freedom of Information Act, but in their insistence that they are above the application of that law. Their treason is not in their refusal to obey subpoenas from Congress, but in their claim that they are above the laws behind those subpoenas. Their treason is not that they fired United States attorneys and then refused to come clean about it, but that they decimated the impartiality of the Department of Justice and turned the rule of law into another partisan weapon. Their treason is not the NSA surveillance of Americans, but their steadfast refusal to submit to the governing laws and the requirement of oversight.
When George W. Bush asserted a claim of Executive Privilege that made him and his administration immune to all laws and oversight, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Dick Cheney asserted that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the Executive Branch, because he did not want to obey the laws requiring him to hand over official documents to the Archives, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Alberto Gonzales chose to surrender the independence of the Department of Justice so he could protect those assertions, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law.
Now here again the defenders of the Idiot in Chief chime in. But FDR (or Kennedy or Clinton) did exactly the same thing. What about when FDR ordered Nazi sympathizers tortured, or Kennedy refused to obey the Congressional subpoena to explain the Bay of Pigs fiasco, or when Clinton declined to step down after being impeached? (See, I can make up imaginary events with the best of them.) My answer: so what? Is your point (as hall-monitors used to say, albeit more crudely, in my day) that since others were doing wrong, that makes it right? Try that in court some time! (Yes, I know I got caught selling crack, but everybody else was doing it. Why pick on me?) Is your point that past mistakes made while the country was in a state of national crisis (Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, FDR's internment of American citizens of Japanese descent) justify repeating those mistakes now, when no similar crisis exists? The old saw about not learning from history comes to mind here. And if your point is that past abuses of power by people who managed to escape any consequences for them justify future abuses of power, I would say that you, Mr. Strawman, are part of the problem. A big part of the problem.
Oh, yeah, and if your point was a narrow partisan one, then shame on you. As a Republican, I am not surprised when the opposition behaves in a disgusting fashion. I expect better from my party. (And now I hear my father remark, "You can expect anything you like. That doesn't mean you're going to get it.") Back to Pitt:
Now wouldn't that be something.
Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America.
That is the treason of Alberto Gonzales, and the treason of the Bush administration entire. They have attacked and undercut the rule of law by refusing to submit to it, and in doing so have brought us to the edge of appalling infamy. Theirs is a crime without peer, and we will be fortunate beyond measure if we are able to recover from it.
The fact that Alberto Gonzales has left is meaningless in the main, because the treason he participated in continues in his absence. If the damage is to be repaired, he must be replaced by someone who will submit to the main imperative, someone who will submit to the rule of law, someone with real independence and unbending respect for the idea that is America. Gonzales must not be replaced by another crony or yes-man, because Americans have only those rights we can protect and defend, and another traitor in that lofty post is no protection at all.
Gonzales was more than a poor steward of this trust. He was a traitor among traitors. If the rule of law is to stand, the treason he helped commit must be ended, and a patriot must take his place.