“There are just all kinds of doctrines that protect government officials, even when they’re wrong,” said former Bush White House lawyer Brad Berenson. “The dirty little secret here is that the United States government has enduring institutional interests that carry over from administration to administration and almost always dictate the position the government takes.”
Despite the Obama Justice Department’s vocal opposition to the legal distortions committed by Bush administration torture advocating, habeas-corpus-ignoring lawyer John Yoo, the first acts of the department probably will be to defend Yoo against a civil lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla, the US citizen arrested and held without charges before being convitected conspiracy charges unrelated to the “dirty bomb” plot he was picked up for and sentenced to 17 years. That sentence is under appeal, which is a separate issue from the civil suits brought by Padilla against John Yoo and Donald Rumsfeld.
It is also separate from war crimes charges that Yoo and Rumsfeld richly deserve, but may not be prosecuted by Eric Holder, according to a Politico piece. As the Obama presidency progresses, the public demand heard in November for accounatbility for constitutional abuses grows distant, leaving the legal scholar in the Oval Office with the sole shot to call. Prosecute the abusers and cancel out the executive branch’s latest eight years of legal debasement, or walk away and bury the whole chapter in a basement. Millions, including myself, voted for a lawyer specifically to make the right call here. What will win out? The rule of law, or the rule of “enduring institutuional interests”?