A Good Lawyer

There’s an old saying, that goes something like “a lawyer will point to the rule that says you can’t do something, a good lawyer will comb through the rules until they find the combination that says you can do it“.

Time and again, the Department of Justice has demonstrated that, when it comes to destroying American constitutional government, they are the very best of lawyers. Remember John Yoo?

He is best known for his opinions concerning the Geneva Conventions which legitimized the War on Terror by the United States. He also authored the so-called Torture Memos, which concerned the use of what the Central Intelligence Agency called enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding. Wikipedia

What’s the DoJ latest? A white paper of Yoovian audacity, justifying the bulk collection of US citizens’ telephone activity, on the grounds that it might someday be “relevant” in combatting the terrorist threat to the US. Some people have a problem with this.

One of the jobs of the Attorney General is “to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States”. Those words are used in both the original Judiciary Act of 1789, and in the follow-on legislation almost a century later, the Act to Establish the Department of Justice, ch. 150, 16 Stat. 162 (1870).  So the job of the Attorney General, with the support of his minions in the DoJ, is to answer questions like “Is it torture if we do to this guy the kinds of things we executed other people for?” and “Is it a violation of the 4th Amendment if we do to citizens of the US the kinds of things we vilified the communist countries (and King George) for doing?” Given our long devotion to the rule of law, one would expect the answers to be along the lines of  “Of course it’s illegal, you dumb shit, why are you even bothering me with this malarkey?”

Instead, we find that the AG and the DoJ have become enablers, complicit in attacks on US civil liberties. I’m not claiming an anti-American conspiracy here. The AG’s under both Republican and Democratic President’s are honorable, capable men, who I am sure, see themselves as protecting American lives; men who have no intention of creating a police state and who see no way that it would ever come to that.

To modify slightly the closing words from Judgement at Nuremberg, “It came to that, Mr. Attorney General, the first time you sanctioned an act that you knew to be illegal.”


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