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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.
More from Scott Horton:
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers
No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath
No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am
How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith