"The Republicans are trying to keep George W. Bush out of jail. So far, the media and the Democrats haven't done much to stop them."So what makes Thom say such a thing?
But the real issue is whether Republicans in Congress will trade the principles of democracy and the rule of law to keep George W. Bush and several of his colleagues out of jail, or whether they'll uphold the rule of law and American democracy while abandoning him to face the consequences of his illegal acts.
On June 29, 2006, in the Hamden Case, the US Supreme Court ruled that Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration had violated the Geneva Convention and other international treaties with regard to the treatment and prosecution of detainees in the so-called "war on terror."With the possibility that the Democrats could take control of one or more houses of congress there is the possibility of serious investigations of the Bush policies. Those policies have been in violation of both US and international law. The Republican "rebels" goal from the beginning was to distract the Democrats and insure that the Bush administration would get a retroactive pass.
The logic of the decision could subject Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, and Rumsfeld - along with those down the chain of command who followed their orders - to prosecution as war criminals both in the United States and internationally. If they violated Common Article 3 and others of the Geneva Conventions, they could be subject to lengthy imprisonment in the US for violating US laws, as well as being brought before the United Nation's International Court of Justice at The Hague, the same as Slobodan Milosevic.
A hastily convened conference call by the Justice Department to discuss the ruling caused Brian Roehrkasse at the Department of Justice Public Affairs Office to comment to those on the call that "the Supreme Court's holding indicates the military commissions, as currently constituted by DOD, while robust in affording enemy combatants more process than this or any other country has ever afforded enemy combatants, are not consistent with current congressional statutes, especially the UCMJ and treaty provisions, Common Article 3."
A plain English translation would be close to: "The Supreme Court said we've broken US law, we've broken the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and we've broken the Geneva Conventions' Common Article 3."
If either of these precedents carry forward or are seriously prosecuted - as could happen if Democrats take either the House or the Senate and gain the power to investigate crimes of the Bush Administration, or could simply happen as the normal course of events if lawyers in the Justice Department and the United Nations enforce the law - Republicans are faced with the very real possibility that George W. Bush and others in his administration could go to prison. Impeachment is a virtual given.
Thus the spin. And the compromises. And the debates within the Republican Party. And the corporate media's efforts to limit the discussion to the "wiretapping debate" and the "prisoner interrogation/torture debate."
Scratch the veneer off, though, and you quickly see that this is really about keeping George out of jail.
Thom Hartmann's article was written before the details of the so called "compromise" were known so there was still some question as to how this would turn out.
Will the Republicans bail George out the way Osama's half-brother, Salem Bin Laden (who soon thereafter died in a plane crash in Texas), did when Dubya's Harken Oil Company was going bust? Will they keep him from being prosecuted the way his father did when Poppy shut down an SEC investigation of Junior's inside trading? Will they keep him out of federal custody the way his daddy did when Dubya left the Texas Air National Guard to desert the military and go on a year-long drinking binge in Alabama?We now know what the Republicans will do and there is little reason to believe the Democrats will do any better.
And will the Democratic Party seize the frame - or use as an October Surprise - the fact of George W. Bush's vulnerability to criminal prosecution?
Or will the Republicans - and maybe even Poppy Bush (who's spending an eerie amount of time with his new surrogate son, Bill Clinton) - simply decide that after sixty years it's finally time for George to fend for himself, and leave our laws intact?
It could, after all, be the best way for a "maverick" Republican like McCain to reclaim the Republican party and pin all the blame for five years of High Crimes And Misdemeanors on Dubya, paving the way for a "cleaner" Republican slate in the '08 elections. Many of these same Republicans, remember, were pushing hard for jail time for Bill Clinton for lying to a Grand Jury about having sex in the Oval Office - and were quite vocal about how a president could be both impeached and prosecuted for crimes.
The next few weeks - and the fine print in the "compromises" being hammered out among Republicans in the Senate right now - will tell.