Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why aren't these people in prison?

On Monday, the Office of Special Counsel finally released its report on violations of the Hatch Act during the Bush Administration. From TPM:
With the rest of the political world gearing up for the 2012 elections, the Office of Special Counsel on Monday released a long overdue report that said that George W. Bush administration's Office of Public Affairs in 2006 was essentially an extension of the Republican National Committee in the White House.

The report found that the Bush administration regularly broke the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of federal tax dollars for political activities. The Office of Political Affairs in Bush's White House, overseen by Karl Rove, dispatched cabinet officials to campaign for Republican candidates on the federal dime and forced federal political appointees to attend political meetings during work time, the report concluded.

Their efforts to propel the Republicans to electoral success wasn't very successful -- 2006 was the first year that Democrats took control of the House and Senate in decades. But the violations the investigation found (including 75 illegal political briefings by GOP appointees at top federal agencies from 2001 to 2007) demonstrated a "systematic misuse of federal resources," according to the OSC.

The consequences for those violations? Nada. OSC has no teeth and is only capable of terminating employees -- a sanction that became null-and-void when all the Bush administration left office. A spokesman said that the office had not made a formal referral to the Justice Department to ask it to pursue any possible charges.

Why aren't these people facing prison terms - or any punishment at all?

When Barack Obama took office, he decided he was going to bring the country together by forgetting about all the illegal activities of Republicans during the previous eight years. No investigations of the "weapons of mass destruction" claims that got us to invade an innocent country. (Remember, the Bush Administration claimed they had "proof" of what turned out to be a complete fairy tale.) No charges for torturing prisoners of war. No punishment for politicizing the U.S. Department of Justice or other violations of the Hatch Act, even though that's federal law.

Yeah, the Democrats decided to let all that get a free pass. Well, how's that working out for them now? Republican criminals had been sweating blood, seriously worried about prison time, until they were all let off scot-free. And now they're on top of the world again. Honestly, how inept can the Democrats be?

More importantly, when crimes like this go unpunished - and even un-investigated, for the most part - they're very likely to happen again. Will Republican political operatives worry about violating the Hatch Act the next time they're in the White House? Of course not. Why should they? Will they refrain from torturing prisoners? Again, why should they?

These are crimes. But as a nation, we'd rather just sweep it all under the rug. Well, I can certainly understand why Republicans want to do that. But tell me, do you think they'd do the same if it were Democrats committing illegal acts? Heh, heh. Forget about getting tough on crime, they're not that inept politically.

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