Idealistically, the law is a reflection of our human character; what we favor, what we punish, how we want society to work or how we think it is flawed. The law serves as an intersection of values and freedom, where the codification of certain conduct is in constant tension with the individual’s capacity and ability to choose right and wrong for himself.
Today gave us yet another story of the Bush Administration’s disregard for the rule of law, unsurprisingly starring Mr. Gonzales. As the Washington Post reported, Mr. Gonzales had received memos regarding the abuse and misuse of national security letters by the FBI. Mr. Gonzales then went before Congress, who was debating the re-authorization of the Patriot Act, and told them there had been no instances where civil liberties or protected privacy interests had been violated. Mr. Gonzales’ testimony was a major factor in Congress’ re-authorization of the Act and the placement of continued trust in the Administration’s protestations that it was following the law.
When the Bush Administration wantonly abandons the rule of law, it undermines the very principles embodied by the law. The Bush Admistration appears to believe that it is above society: that the law simply does not apply to it. This Hobbesian view of the leader’s infallibility strikes at the very foundations of democracy. The longer the Bush Admistration dodges responsbility for its illegal behavior, the more damage it will inflict, not just today, but long into the future.
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