Sometimes even the journalistic mainstream gets it.

It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints

That’s from an editorial in the New York Times Sunday July 16. (Times link, via Truthout). (Emphases and outlines added.) The times refers to the Bush Administration’s

… perverse determination:

  • never to consult,
  • never to ask and
  • always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.

One result has been a frayed democratic fabric in a country founded on a constitutional system of checks and balances. Another has been a less effective war on terror.

The editorial cites clear examples from handling of Guantanamo and “Eavesdropping on Americans”, then deals with the very high costs of this “Real Agenda.” It is worth reading for good short summaries of the current status of affairs in both matters. For example, there’s this under “eavesdropping on Americans.”

The president had no need to go it alone – everyone wanted to go with him. Both parties in Congress were eager to show they were tough on terrorism. But the obsession with presidential prerogatives created fights where no fights needed to occur and made huge messes out of programs that could have functioned more efficiently within the rules.

I guess playing by the rules is for liberals and sissies, for people who believe in old simple notions like honesty and Constitutions and the dangerous depravity of human nature. Some of us believe EVERY human being in power (or out of power for that matter), including George W. Bush, has a depraved streak that MUST be watched by the rest of us. That idea, you know, is a major theme in the Bible.

This “real agenda” of George Bush to obtain absolute power is not Christian. Christian theology and morality teach that no one man or group is to be trusted with absolute and unquestioned authority.

This “real agenda” of George Bush is not American. American political theory and Constitutional history teach that no one man or group is to be trusted with absolute and unrestrained authority.

The article further states that

Jane Mayer provided a close look at this effort to undermine the constitutional separation of powers in a chilling article in the July 3 issue of The New Yorker. She showed how it grew out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s long and deeply held conviction that the real lesson of Watergate and the later Iran-contra debacle was that the president needed more power and that Congress and the courts should get out of the way.

That is profoundly unAmerican and unChristian.

And look what it produces. This list wraps up the editorial – behaviors with which we are all already very familiar.

The results have been devastating.

  • Americans’ civil liberties have been trampled.
  • The nation’s image as a champion of human rights has been gravely harmed.
  • Prisoners have been abused, tortured and even killed at the prisons we know about, while other prisons operate in secret.
  • American agents “disappear” people, some entirely innocent, and send them off to torture chambers in distant lands.
  • Hundreds of innocent men have been jailed at Guantánamo Bay without charges or rudimentary rights.
  • And Congress has shirked its duty to correct this out of fear of being painted as pro-terrorist at election time.

These are the things we fought WWII (against the Nazis and the Japanese) and the Cold War (against the Communists) to prevent.

This is immoral and illegal;
it is not Christian, and
it is not American.

What then IS it?