No Comment — July 13, 2007, 6:54 am

Called to Account

Bush came to office in 2001 with a promise of accountability. He would, he promised, restore dignity and accountability to the Oval Office. But the hallmark of his Government has been not accountability, but impunity: the notion that neither he nor any of those who act to his commands can be held to account for crimes or wrongdoing they commit. It is the total inversion of the principle of government by men under law introduced by America’s Founding Fathers.

And if there is no accountability—if Bush and company simply conclude their terms and leave without ever being taken to tasks for criminal misconduct—what consequences does this have for our society? That’s a question one of our editors put to me over lunch yesterday. It’s both extremely important and essentially unasked in America today.
But across the ocean in our motherland of rather more authoritarian traditions, in Britain, precisely this question is being asked. And tomorrow, July 14, 2007, at 9:30 a.m., BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting a play entitled “Called to Account,” which addresses precisely the question my editor put.

In early 2007, two leading barristers tested the evidence as to whether there would be sufficient grounds to indict the British Prime Minister for the crime of aggression against Iraq. They examined a number of distinguished witnesses, including Members of Parliament, diplomats, United Nations officials, Intelligence experts and journalists.

Their revealing testimony was re-told by actors in The Tricycle Theatre’s critically acclaimed tribunal play Called to Account – The Indictment of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair for the crime of aggression against Iraq – A Hearing. To mark the resignation of Tony Blair, the original cast return in this specially adapted version for BBC Radio 4.

If you’re in Britain, tune in at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow to BBC4. And if not, tune in at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time to the webcast. Click on the link provided and then click the “listen live” icon at the top of the page. It will be worth your time.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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