A cruel irony of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling lies in the Chief Justice’s definition of corruption. If you’re one of the 644 Americans to which the Roberts court dedicated its ruling, the court gave you an additional kiss with its newly anointed definition of political corruption.
Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to such quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner “influence over or access to” elected officials or political parties. And because the Government’s interest in preventing the appearance of corruption is equally confined to the appearance of quid pro quo corruption, the Government may not seek to limit the appearance of mere influence or access.
In other words, for the purpose of the Koch court’s beloved 644, corruption is only corruption when it’s out and out bribery.
Government may not seek to limit the appearance of mere influence or access is not limited to stopping the use of money to gut our social safety net, suppress our votes, or in Sheldon Addelson’s case ban that quaint old free enterprise concept of competition.
It also means buying protection – not only for the privileged 644, but also for their loyal servants in previous administrations that engaged in acts which we recognized, condemned and prosecuted as war crimes when done by other countries. Finally, it means buying a dark cloud of silence that obstructs efforts to uncover secret programs like the Bush Administration’s torture program.
We have and continue to see it happen in the actions of Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. First they withdrew from the investigation in its early stages. They “dismissed” the report as “partisan” even though they refused to participate in the investigation, which makes any conclusions they offer suspect.
Today, when the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify the 480-page executive summary, it did so without votes from the 664’s party of choice.
Senator Dianne Feinstein explained why the Democratic members pursued this investigation.
The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking. The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.
Of course, we already know the general thrust of the report. The CIA committed the war crime of torture and rendition in a program established by the Bush Administration. We also know the report will not recommend prosecutions beyond the token few of underlings who were “just following orders.”
In other words, while the declassifed portion of report does serve to shed some light on the facts, that effort was resisted by the members most likely to be bought by the benefactors of yesterday’s ruling.
Water boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation are among the methods of torture we already know about, though some who are in the know suggest even more savage methods of torture were also utilized.
According to various reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee says the evidence discredits the Republican Party’s favorite talking point. Torture did not lead us to Bin Laden (contrary to the fictional account portrayed in Zero Dark Thirty.) Moreover, people were designated a higher value than they were since the Bush Administration saved its use of torture for “high value” suspects. The report also discredited Dick Cheney’s claim (which he recently restated during a recent speech at American University) that torture was justified because it saved lives.
It took five years after this 6,000+ page report was completed to secure enough votes among the Senate Intelligence Committee’s members to release the 480-page summary.
Part of Senator Feinstein’s stated objective was to assure this would never happen again. Frankly, while disclosure is a good thing, prosecuting all who were responsible, including highest level officials in the Bush Administration would be a much more effective deterrent. The odds of that are non-existent now and even less so if politicians bought by the benefactors of yesterday’s ruling maintain control of the House, and gain control of the Senate.
It’s worth noting again that every candidate (except Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul) in the 2012 Republican Primaries supported the Bush Administration’s war crimes.
Image: Washington Post