06 November 2007

How Not To Stand Up To An Over-Reaching Executive Branch

Police officers beating lawyers today in Multan, Pakistan.
Photograph © Khalid Tanveer/Associated Press

The picture above, showing lawyers protesting the state of emergency in Pakistan, is lifted from today's New York Times; this story in The Guardian makes clear what everyone knows (what better role for the press?) namely that Musharraf declared a state of emergency not due to the threats of terrorism but as a way of systematically thwarting the rule of law and the threat of democratic accountability.

I posted some time ago on the role that lawyers were playing in protests against the authoritarian dictatorship in Pakistan (our putative ally in the "GWOT"). Ironically enough, while lawyers in the U.S. feel warranted in speaking out in official ways about events in Pakistan, they seem significantly less inclined to raise objections to the systematic breach of the rule of law here at home.

As Alberto Junior (aka Michael Mukasey) moves toward nearly certain confirmation by the Senate, where is the outcry from the ABA? Is the President of the Association ~ whose motto is "Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice" ~ urging the membership to use "every peaceful, legal means" to pressure BushCo to recognize torture as unacceptable and to stop engaing in it? Is the ABA contesting the ludicrously asserted executive powers BushCo is grasping for? A look at the ABA web page suggests that if the Association is doing anything in that direction, they are keeping it secret.

It is important to be clear about what is happening here. It is not just the ABA. It is that the Democrats, having gained control of Congress, are doing nothing to restrain the Bush administration's plans and trajectory.

P.S.: Some of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee developed enough backbone to vote against the Mukasey nomination. Unfortunately Chuck Schumer, the second most pathetic Senator from New York (my home state) was not among them. He and Feinstein of California gave the Administration what it wants. One more good reason to not ever vote for Schumer.

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