The Weiner resignation: our political system in a nutshell

The Congressman is forced out of office. Bush and Cheney - torture, illegal eavesdropping, Iraq -- were not

Published June 16, 2011 6:17PM (EDT)

The New York Times, December 16, 2005 ("Bush lets U.S. spy on callers without courts"):

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying. . . Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three year . . .

The Washington Post, November 2, 2005 ("CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons"):

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe . . . The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago. . . revelations of widespread prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S. military. . . have increased concern among lawmakers, foreign governments and human rights groups about the opaque CIA system.

New York Times, December 11, 2008 ("Report Blames Rumsfeld for Detainee Abuse"):

A report released Thursday by leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee said top Bush administration officials, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, bore major responsibility for the abuses committed by American troops in interrogations at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and other military detention centers. . . .

The report was issued jointly by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the panel, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the report says, "was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own" but grew out of interrogation policies approved by Mr. Rumsfeld and other top officials, who "conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees."

The Guardian, March 19, 2008 ("What is the real death toll in Iraq?"):

The US would count its own dead (now close to 4,000), but the toll the war was taking on Iraqis was not a matter the Pentagon or any other US government department intended to quantify . . . . So five years after Bush and Tony Blair launched the invasion of Iraq against the wishes of a majority of UN members, no one knows how many Iraqis have died. We do know that more than two million have fled abroad. Another 1.5 million have sought safety elsewhere in Iraq. . . . There is no shortage of estimates [of Iraqi dead], but they vary enormously. . . The results range from just under 100,000 dead to well over a million.

New York Times, November 8, 2006 ("Pelosi: Bush impeachment 'off the table'"):

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promised Wednesday that when her party takes over, the new majority will not attempt to remove President Bush from office. . . . "I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table," Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference.

New York Times, January 11, 2009 ("Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs"):

President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. . . . Mr. Obama added that he also had "a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."


New York Times, today ("Weiner Quits House Seat Over ‘Mistakes’"):

Representative Anthony D. Weiner, an influential Democrat who had been considered a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York City, said Thursday that he was resigning from Congress following revelations of lewd online exchanges with several women. . . . 

The news came as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness. . . . Pressure on Mr. Weiner to leave the House has been building for days, with top House Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, coming forward over the weekend . . . . That pressure intensified earlier this week when President Obama publicly suggested that Mr. Weiner should step down and Ms. Pelosi told reporters that she was prepared to strip Mr. Weiner of his committee assignments if he did not leave.

That, more or less, summarizes everything one needs to know about our political culture.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

MORE FROM Glenn Greenwald

Related Topics ------------------------------------------