Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Life in Post-Legal America? 31 May '11

The rule of law in America has broken down.

And considering that we were founded as a nation of laws - that whole "republic" thing that Republicans like to talk about - this is a troubling development.

Right now - there are at least a dozen officials from the Bush administration who committed war crimes - politicized our Justice Department - and leaked the name of a CIA agent for political gain - who have yet to face the American justice system for their crimes.

Not only that - these men like Karl Rove - Donald Rumsfeld - Dick Cheney - John Yoo - Jay Bybee - and even George W. Bush himself - are thumbing their noses at American law - appearing on television - touting their crimes - going on book tours - and in the case of attorney John Yoo now teaching law, and Bybee was rewarded by Bush by a lifetime seat on the 9th Circuit Court, one step below the Supreme Court.

Not only that - there are thousands of banksters on Wall Street who stole trillions of dollars from us and ruined the lives of billions of people around the world with their theft from global financial markets - damage done as a result of premeditated fraud.

Yet - they still sit in their corner offices on Wall Street - still making their millions in bonuses - and have yet to even catch a whiff of the rule of law in America.

Elsewhere around America - you have big energy CEOs who have the blood of countless men on their hands as a result of exploding oil rigs and collapsing coal mines - as well as thousands of cancers and billions of dollars in environmental destruction on their watch - yet not one is facing criminal charges for their negligence.

And while overt high crimes are being carried out by America’s rich and powerful without consequence - Nixon’s War on Drugs continues to throw hundreds of thousands of working class and poor Americans in prison for non-violent and petty crimes like smoking pot.

America has the highest rate of incarceration in the developed world thanks to Nixon's War on Drugs - yet not one of those inmates hail from the Bush Administration - Goldman Sachs - or BP.

Can you see the double standard here?

Steal 50 bucks in candy bars from a 7-11 - go to jail.

But if you steal 50 MILLION bucks from public pensions on Wall Street - here's a bailout.

It appears as though our rule of law breaks down once you pass the 6th zero in someone's bank account.

But it’s not just this tale of two justice systems that’s weighing down the rule of law in America.

It's our foreign policy strategy too.

Our current war in Libya is raging for more than 2 months now without legal authority.

We’re targeting a US citizen for assassination without trial.

We're routinely violating the Fourth Amendment with warantless wiretaps and cybersnooping.

And we’re holding detainees in Gitmo without due process of the law.

Not to mention the non-existent legal basis for the slew of secret detention facilities around the world to which we outsource our torture.

Our government officials and policymakers have found a cozy spot far away from the reaches of our justice system to legislate foreign policy.

And they found that spot because a decade of policies by George W. Bush have sufficiently neutered our justice system when it comes to prosecuting political and corporate bigwigs.

If you're the right person - then anything goes today in America.

So while the crimes mount - and our politicians and CEOs don their immunity badges - the rest of America is going head to head against monster security machines like the PATRIOT Act and the Nixon War on Drugs.

So the question -

When the rule of law has broken down within a nation built on laws...what is left?

That's The Big Picture.

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