Nice little post in response to this by Jack Goldsmith:
The people in government who made mistakes or who acted in ways that seemed reasonable at the time but now seem inappropriate have been held publicly accountable by severe criticism, suffering enormous reputational and, in some instances, financial losses. Little will be achieved by further retribution.Wimberley writes:
Does the USA run a Scandinavian criminal justice system that aims to reform its few convicts with human kindness? Not in fact: it pays a lavish annual tribute to the Eumenides. According to the BJS,On June 30, 2007 2,299,116 prisoners were held in federal or state prisons or in local jails.This is the highest rate of imprisonment in the world. The USA executed 42 murderers in 2007, the majority of whom just happened to be poor Southern blacks; it jails petty drug dealers for 10 years without parole for a second offence of possession of 50 grammes of crack cocaine.
The offences we are talking about here are odious ones: conspiracies to commit war crimes.
(Read the whole thing, sez me. It's not often that you see an astute reference to the Orestia in discussions of American politics...)
Count on the Bushies and their ilk to suddenly become the Care Bears when it's their own crimes that are at issue. It's lex talionis for the poor, mollycoddling for the rich. It's impeachement for consensual sex for Dems. But for the GOP? Not even the greatest crimes deserve investigation, much less impeachment.
This will be one of the greatest challenges facing Obama. He wants to end partisan rancor...but it would be unjust to let war crimes go unpunished. And punishing them will inevitably be seen by many Republicans as partisanship. And among those who recognize that it isn't, many of them will represent it as such for political purposes.
Jim Wright recognized that Reagan had committed impeachable crimes, but he did not push for prosecution, saying that America couldn't take another such crisis so soon after Nixon. One consequence was that probable crimes went unpunished. Another, IMHO, is that Republicans of Bush's persuasion now seem to think they are above the law, that nothing they do will trigger impeachment. Nancy Pelosi has assured them that they're basically right about this.
We have obligations to punish those who break just laws, but we also have obligations to future generations. It is time to make it clear that impeachment is not just for oral sex anymore...that high crimes that violate our most sacred principles can--and at least occasionally will--still be punished.