Glenn Greenwald hits a walk-off grand-slam with this piece, critical of Beltway NEO-CONventional wisdom that "oh, we'll all have the vapors should law-breaking by those in the highest circles of power actually be punished." The specific target of Glenn's baseball bat is Ruth Marcus of WaPo, and her justification of Ronald Reagan's pardon of Watergate's then still unknown "Deep Throat," Deputy FBI Director Mark Felt, for illegal wiretapping and surveillance of dirty hippies and others on Nixon's enemies' list.
Marcus's case is that there is some kind of a delicate balance between national security and upholding the law, and that those who knowingly and intentionally break the law, if doing so under the guise of "protecting us" should, well, get away with it out of some "higher principle"... that "the effort should be made to deterring future law-breaking, rather than punishing past law-breaking. Glenn sounds the proper "WTF?" We deter law breaking of any kind by punishing it; it is, in fact, these much-abused pardons... that encourage official law breaking in the first place.
These areguments sound awfully familiar, do they not? Up to and including the recent series of homilies to torture by our very own Vice President for Torture, Dick Cheney.
Well, no, actually, Ms. Marcus. The point of having laws is that they apply to everyone. There are absurd misapplications and inequities in it (such as, because he is a rich White man, the perpetrator of the largest theft in human history is under house arrest, rather than in the slammer, as any dark skinned urban teenager would be for a two-bit mugging). But ultimately, the law at least is supposed to apply to everyone. Unfortunately, abuses of the pardon power seem to mean that when the criminals have official titles in the executive branch, it's o.k. for them to break the law.
I fear the "pragmatism" of the Obama Administration will block it from pursuing the appropriate accountability (and that means some high officials should do time)... assuming that Bush doesn't preempt it all with pardons that Dick Cheney places under his nose around 3 or 4 weeks from now. I hope I'm wrong (on both counts, of course). But I don't think I am.