Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Bush Legacy

Daniel Metcalfe, a thirty year veteran of the United States Department of Justice discusses his experience there and the impact of the Bush years, in particular the influence of Alberto Gonzales. The results are not pretty. In short he says that Gonzolas has "shattered" the long standing tradition of isolating the Department from politics. For a very brief summary, the following
Actually, I began earlier, in the first Nixon administration, as a college intern in 1971. But I was there again in the Watergate era, when I worked in part of the Attorney General's Office during my first year of law school in 1973-1974, and then continuously as a trial attorney and office director for nearly 30 years. That adds up to more than a dozen attorneys general, including Ed Meese as well as John Mitchell, and I used to think that they had politicized the department more than anyone could or should. But nothing compares to the past two years under Alberto Gonzales.

or the following
But the process of agency functioning, however, became dramatically different almost immediately after Gonzales arrived. No longer was emphasis placed on accomplishing something with the highest-quality product in a timely fashion; rather, it became a matter of making sure that a "consensus" was achieved, regardless of how long that might take and with little or no concern that quality would suffer in such a "lowest common denominator" environment. And heaven help anyone, career or noncareer employee, if that "consensus" did not include whatever someone in the White House might think about something, be it large, small or medium-sized.

Much more of the same can be seen throughout. This is the legacy that Bush will leave behind. What is even more tragic is the lack of appreciation for how serious this is.

Governments are created by people in order to create security and stability so that the people may, in peace, go about their daily lives. The government exists to avoid that Hobbsian state of nature, the war of all against all. A government is able to do so because the population subject to it grants it enormous power to investigate, seize property, arrest and imprison. These powers are awesome and must be controlled. If these powers are abused then the government can destroy the state of security it is created to produce. The most important control is to insure that these powers are used to enforce agreed upon laws. The worst possible abuse of these powers is if they are used solely to advance the political ambitions of one faction or another. Yet, in spite of a long standing tradition of keeping politics out of the Justice Department, the Bush Administration has with contempt for the honorable traditions of this nation ended that separation. The result is to create the worst kinds of abuses of government power. The case in Wisconsin illustrates where this may go. The American people responded in time last November. Let us hope the damage is not too great.

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