Glenn Greenwald (Salon): Establishment Washington unifies against prosecutions. As confirmed accounts emerged years ago of chronic presidential lawbreaking, warrantless eavesdropping, systematic torture, rendition, “black site” prisons, corruption in every realm, and all sorts of other dark crimes, where were journalists and other opinion-making elites? Very few of them with any significant platform can point to anything they did or said to oppose or stop any of it — and they know that. Many of them, even when much of this became conclusively proven, were still explicitly praising Bush officials. Most of them supported the underlying enabling policies (Guantanamo and the permanent state of war in Iraq and “on terror”), and then cheered on laws — the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act — designed to legalize these activities and retroactively immunize the lawbreakers and war criminals from prosecution. So when these media and political elites are defending Bush officials, mitigating their crimes, and arguing that they shouldn’t be held accountable, they’re actually defending themselves. Just as Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller can’t possibly demand investigations for crimes in which they were complicit, media stars can’t possibly condemn acts which they supported or, at the very best, towards which they turned a blissfully blind eye. They can’t indict Bush officials for what they did because to do so would be to indict themselves. Bush officials need to be exonerated, or at least have their crimes forgotten (look to the future and ignore the past, they all chime in unison), so that their own involvement in it will also be cleansed and then forgotten.
This is a harsh indictment, but it’s hard to argue with Greenwald. With rare exceptions, Washington journalists have been complicit in the lawbreaking that characterized the Bush administration. Now, even as they admit that the crimes were crimes, they want everyone to forgive and forget — but mostly forget.
This is another chapter in the breakdown of journalism as one of the few institutions that holds power accountable. In this case, it would mean holding journalism accountable, too. Not going to happen.