Katrina vanden Heuvel positions the Bush legacy in history and speculates about legal repercussions.
Question: What is the legacy of the Bush administration?
vanden Heuvel: A ruined economic system, two wars, and possibly the end of the United States as an empire, which has been the constant construct of this country for certainly the 20th Century. But, national nightmare: two disastrous wars, failed economic system, and a callousness, a callousness toward human life, whether it was in New Orleans or whether in the prisons of Abu Ghraib or Bagram in Afghanistan or in Guantanamo. And, finally, a failure to bring real security to this country.
Question: Will criminal charges be brought against the administration?
vanden Heuvel: I think it is a constitutional, American, patriotic issue that there’ll be accountability for breaking the laws. We certainly treat those who break the laws on the streets with real retribution, and I think we would do well to think hard, if there are criminal prosecutions or if there aren’t investigations, what that means about our democracy, what that means about the resilience of our system and our constitution moving forward, because it gives toolbox to our next president to ignore laws and accountability. So I think it will depend. Again, some of this work is going to be from below. I think one of the hopeful elements of the Obama administration, again, is the sense that it has reached out to the grassroots during the course of the campaign. Don’t lose that touch and that reaching out, and that the work will come from movements and from citizens, as it has over the course of this country’s history. Real change has come from movements from citizens to push the idea of accountability, and the internet is playing a role. Our Net Roots Movement correspondent, Ari Melber, has been involved with the Obama website change.gov, and it’s interesting that the call for a special prosecutor is the most popular question on that website at this moment. Of course, there are other issues. Do I see it in the cards? Never say never.