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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Saddam copying Bush's talking points?

There are a few Bush-loving sites which are vehemently denying that GOP commentators compared Bush opponents with bin Laden by "pointing out" that bin Laden's latest message "sounds like" Democrats. I am currently have a mini-debate with a couple of those blogs and their readers in the Comments sections to those posts (including the omnipresent Tom Maguire in the latter), where the Bush lovers are earnestly protesting that all they were doing was making an innocent factual observation that bin Laden's speech had a lot of points that are often made by Democrats.

See, pro-Bush commentators didn't mean anything bad at all by this comparison, and they certainly did not mean to imply -- where would anyone possibly ever get that idea? -- that Democrats are al Qaeda supporters. It's just that bin Laden sounds a lot like Democrats and all they're doing is pointing that out. What's the problem?

In that case, I'm sure they won't mind at all if it's pointed out that Saddam Hussein's defense theory at his war crimes trial in Baghdad sure does sound an awful lot like the Bush Administration's theories as to why they have the right to violate the law. As Stirling Newberry points out (h/t American Coprophagia):

Saddam Hussein's defense against his indictment by an ad hoc Iraqi tribunal is simply that has the head of the state he had unlimited power to defend the state. That enemies of the state did not have legal protection, and therefore he cannot be charged for what he did during that time.

Hussein must somehow be obtaining copies of the letters which Alberto Gonazelez has been writing in order to defend George Bush and is apparently taking copious notes, because he has almost every one of Gonzalez's points down pat. Uncanny, isn't it? Bush and Saddam have exactly the same view of what it means to be President and how it means that they get to break the law as long as they are doing it to defend the country.

I'm not comparing Saddam and Bush, of course. Not at all. I'm only innocently observing that they sound exactly like one another when talking about their view of the power of a nation's President to violate the law. That's all. The similarity is undeniable. Anyone can see it. What could possibly be wrong with pointing it out?

Is this really the infantile level of debate to which we're descending? It's only January. Marvel at how much more precipitously things are going to sink between now and November.

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