This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want -- including breaking our laws -- and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country -- live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We've collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws -- that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We've thus become a country which lives under the proverbial "rule of men" -- that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed -- and Mayer's revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.
That's why this ongoing, well-intentioned debate that Andrew Sullivan is having with himself and his readers over whether "torture is worse than illegal, warrantless eavesdropping" is so misplaced, and it's also why those who are dismissing as "an overblown distraction" the anger generated by last week's Congressional protection of surveillance lawbreakers are so deeply misguided. Things like "torture" and "illegal eavesdropping" can't be compared as though they're separate, competing policies. They are rooted in the same framework of lawlessness. The same rationale that justifies one is what justifies the other. Endorsing one is to endorse all of it.
In fact, none of the scandals of radicalism and criminality which we've learned about over the last seven years -- including the creation of this illegal torture regime -- can be viewed in isolation. They're all by-products of the country that we've become in the post-9/11 era, primarily as a result of our collective decision to exempt our Government leaders from the rule of law; to acquiesce to the manipulative claim that we can only be Safe if we allow our Leaders to be free from consequences when they commit crimes; and to demonize advocates of the rule of law as -- to use Larry Lessig's mindless, reactionary clichés -- shrill, Leftist "hysterics" who need to "get off [their] high horse(s)".
That is the mentality that has allowed the Bush administration to engage in this profound assault on our national character, to violate our laws at will. Our political and media elite have acquiesced to all of this when they weren't cheering it all on. Those who object to it, who argue that these abuses of political power are dangerous in the extreme and that we cannot tolerate deliberate government lawbreaking, are dismissed as shrill Leftist hysterics.
I should like to point out that a better point to mark the beginning of the reign of lawlessness than 9/11/2001 is 12/12/2000.
Of course we had the beginnings long before that, but September the 12th is when lawlessness truly took hold. Everything since has followed from that.
Especially when you consider that the crimes being covered up occurred both after and before 9/11. I tried to warn people that 12/12 was going to unravel the nation, and here we are. All you needed to know is that the Felonious Five would never have given the White House to Al Gore, had his role been reversed with Bush’s. Once you admit that, then no rationalization, legal, historical, or practical, can justify what the Five did. Thus, when we didn’t treat the Five as traitors, the way we should have and still should, and so impeached them, removed them, and, most importantly, tarred and feathered them (metaphorically ...), we were establishing ourselves on a course of lawlessness and anti-democracy, and we only now may be managing to back up and try again.
It wouldn’t be fair to blame this all on Al Gore for his surrendering to the Felonious Five. Gore has said the next step would have had to be a revolution, but what that means, in the context I have provided here, is that the political elite—politicians, journalists, newsmodels, corporate creatures, etc.—would have stood with the Five. If they had stood with Gore, no revolution would have been necessary; Congress, having final say on who gets into the electoral college, would simply have refused to recognize the Five’s decision, and would have impeached and removed those hellfreaks. What we got instead was the revolution.
(What Congress would have to have done about the Florida legislature’s threatened coup is harder to say, except that it probably wouldn’t have been attempted if there hadn’t been a lawlessness revolution. There would have been plenty of tar and feathers left over for Florida legislators, after the Five had been dealt with.)