Rule of Law Vetoed by President Obama

There are no headlines or pontificating pundits, but the real news that has become crystal clear to any but the most delusional and distracted Americans is that President Obama has no commitment to applying the rule of law where it counts. Certainly, not applying it to the large number of rich and powerful people that have violated our Constitution and plunged the nation into economic disaster.

Again and again we hear the flimsy argument from Obama and his top advisors that he wants to look forward and not backward. This is tortured logic when it comes to delivering justice in a nation supposedly cherishing the rule of law.

The fundamental logic of honoring and applying the rule of law fairly to absolutely everyone is that people who have broken the law in the past must be held accountable and placed into the justice system after they have misbehaved. In other words, there is no actionable rule of law other than by looking backward into past misdeeds. So how can rational and intelligent people follow the logic of Obama and still believe that he truly understands and honors the rule of law?

It is not believable when Obama says he will honor the rule of law in the future. Why should we trust his rhetoric when he refuses to enforce the rule of law for past actions by some of the most powerful people in America?

There is warranted and massive public disapproval of government as evidenced in the tea parties held across the nation last week. How can Americans respect government when it is so evident that the president stubbornly refuses to seek justice and punishment for those that have violated the public trust? Obama’s reluctance to seek justice for those that have damaged the nation undermines his credibility as an honest public servant.

All of this has taken on new importance as official documents from the Bush administration totally support the view that the US tortured prisoners in violation of international and domestic laws. President George W. Bush lied to us. And even before the latest events there were surely incredible amounts of evidence that high Bush administration officials savaged our Constitution. The constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government has become a fiction.

What Americans have every right to see is a large number of former elected and appointed officials in the Bush administration as well as many in the financial sector being arrested, indicted and confronted with criminal trials. Americans want to see aggressive prosecution and punishment. They want and deserve revenge and retribution, considering the astounding pain and suffering the vast majority of Americans now experience.

We have every right to see in the public limelight what the world saw after World War II when Nazi criminals were tried and punished on the world stage.

This is not happening because Obama seems to have more allegiance to the plutocracy that brought him to the presidency than to the public that has seen thousands of Americans killed in the unjust war in Iraq and now see their families, friends and neighbors suffering loss of jobs, retirement nest eggs, financial security, personal health and homes. When any politician does not enforce the rule of law then I worry that he or she may fear having the rule of law applied to them.

We have witnessed crimes against humanity. We want President Obama to show complete commitment to the rule of law so that the many lying, corrupt and criminal Americans from both the public and private sectors that have caused so much harm are punished. That includes Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and many, many others in the Bush administration, including those that were supposed to regulate the financial sector.

Obama and his underlings seem to say that doing this would be a distraction and a waste of time. Nuts! It is exactly what the nation needs to rebuild confidence in government and the justice system. On the positive side, there are some in Congress showing interest in prosecuting many culprits. But the White House may be exerting pressure behind the scenes to limit their actions.

Applying the rule of law: If not now, then when? Yes, we can and should.

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Read other articles by Joel.

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  1. HR said on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:46am #

    This country is now officially the United States of Forget It and Move On as far as justice is applied to the rich and powerful, a name which has been applicable since Ford pardoned Nixon. For the rest of us, there are lots and lots of shiny new prisons, and more a comin’.

  2. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:18pm #




  3. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:22pm #

    Let’s send a gift to Mumia !! Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday April 24

    By Betsey Piette

    Published Apr 22, 2009 1:38 PM

    Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal will be 55 on April 24. His family, friends and supporters are observing the day with a worldwide “Honk for Mumia” and other displays of resistance to demand freedom for this world-famous African-American journalist held on Pennsylvania’s death row.

    International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal is calling on people everywhere to pick a public site in their area to go to at noon or after work with signs and banners saying “Honk for Mumia” to get the word out that the struggle for justice continues after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal for a new trial.

    The week leading up to April 24 is being organized as a Revolutionary Week, around the theme: “We who believe in freedom cannot wait—we educate!” Programs will be held every night featuring information on political prisoners.

    In Philadelphia members of the original Black Panther Party will speak on April 20; Robert Hillary King of the Angola 3 will speak on April 22; and former political prisoner Adolfo Matos will be a keynote speaker at the National Boricua Human Rights Network on April 25.

    The focus of the week is a celebration of jailhouse lawyers on April 24, with the official release of Mumia’s new book, “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.,” published by City Lights. This “more than a book party” event at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia will be held simultaneously with other, similar events around the U.S.

    In Philadelphia, speakers will include Pam Africa of the International Concerned Family and Friends; Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News; Amin, formerly “Harold Wilson,” the 122nd person freed from death row in the U.S.; Minister of Communication Ramona Africa for the MOVE organization; NAACP Executive Vice President Steven Hawkins; and more. There will also be a program in New York City’s Riverside Church on April 25 celebrating Mumia’s book, organized by the New York Free Mumia Coalition and others.

    An important international petition campaign has been launched directed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he immediately initiate a civil rights investigation addressing the 27-year history of prosecutorial and judicial violations of Abu-Jamal’s constitutional and international rights. Go to

    In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, ABC’s “Inside Story” engaged in a Mumia bashing session on April 12. Not one person on the program offered a differing opinion. One viewer described it as a “hit and run” on Mumia.

    Challenged by Pam Africa to allow an alternative view to be aired, the editor and producer of “Inside Story” responded, “It’s not a news program. They’re a private studio and it’s an opinion program where people can express their opinions.” Africa responded, “When you’re expressing opinions that could result in a man being killed, it’s only responsible to allow those with evidence of his innocence equal air time.”

  4. Andres Kargar said on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:40pm #

    This is class warfare at its clearest, and our liberals and some on the left are too blind and delusional to see it that way.

    The owning classes are allowed to commit any and all crimes against us, all the while knowing that they will never be prosecuted for such misdeeds, and the justification that always manages to fool our liberals is: “Let’s move on and not dwell on the wrongs of the past.”

    The problem with this logic is that it re-assures the owning classes that they are indeed in control and can continue committing similar crimes in the future.

    Didn’t we go through the horrors of the McCarthy period and then again have to tolerate the tragedy of the Bush administration?

    And wasn’t it the United States government that apologized to Japanese-Americans for their shameful internment during World War II, only to commit similar acts against Muslims, and this time add torture and experimentation?

    What about the broken lives of the millions of Americans who lost their life savings and pensions. What about the millions left in the cold without jobs or homes? Should we move on and forget?

    To see so much suffering and ask people to forget and forgive, I think is itself a crime.

  5. Legal Writing said on April 23rd, 2009 at 4:13am #

    Thank you very much for sharing this article I read this complete post ya I agree with US president Obama and his top advisors as they want look forward and not backward. It’s a good attitude.

    Legal Writing

  6. Illegal Writing said on April 23rd, 2009 at 7:28am #

    I agree we should look ahead and not to the past. And when the police pull me over for running a red light they should accept that it is in the past and we need to look ahead. When a kid gets busted for grabbing a purse we should not prosecute but look to the future. After what is one mistake. And rape or murder after all what’s done is done. Quit dredging up old issues. Definitely do not prosecute the wiretappers and torturers. That’s yesterdays news. Hell yes let’s quit prosecuting any crimes. Think of the money we could save. Just look ahead to a brave new world.