In the wake of a conversation with a friend, and as I prepare something longer, I wanted to get a poll from readers on the current investigation of actions of the C.I.A. towards prisioners. Or, more widely, whether or not an investigation should be launched of the members of the Bush administration, and even Bush himself, for war crimes. The thoughts came in lue of the following memorable quotes from “A Man for All Seasons.”
Margaret More: Father, that man’s bad.
Sir Thomas More: There’s no law against that.
William Roper: There is: God’s law.
Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him. William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
Sir Thomas More: You threaten like a dockside bully.
Cromwell: How should I threaten?
Sir Thomas More: Like a minister of state. With justice.
Cromwell: Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.
Sir Thomas More: Then I am not threatened.
There is a tendency to feel like we should let the President and his cronies off the hook, since “that is in the past.” It would be the nice thing for Obama to let things go, as if justice is a matter of party politics. Well, sadly it has become that, but above either party and either president is the law. The question should be whether or not Bush or the C.I.A feel threatened, not by men, but by the law and its justice. Sadly, particularly during wartime, it has become possible for the president to do anything, even overstepping the law. And then, those who come after, out of civility, are supposed to let him get away with it.
This is not an endorsement of Obama by the way. He too has kowtowed to warmongering and fear by his albeit somewhat tentative endorsement of the Patriot Act.
What do you think?