The Attorney General Who Doesn't Respect Or Comply With His Oversight Wants Citizens To Respect And Comply With Cops

from the enforcing-hypocrisy-from-the-top-down dept

The "law and order" administration is flexing its muscles. New Attorney General William Barr has been particularly vocal since his appointment, going after device encryption and the supposedly-dangerous "disrespect" for police.

Barr's public statements -- the latter of which was delivered to a very receptive audience composed of police union reps -- have made it clear his DOJ is going to carry out Trump's back-the-blue mandates. Law enforcement officers will receive the federal government's seal of endless approval, as well as its benefit of a doubt when things go badly.

Things go badly quite often. Cops are still killing more than 1,000 people (and nearly 10,000 dogs) every year, even as crime rates remain at historic lows. Barr's message to America was: comply, shut up, stop complaining. If you do somehow still feel your rights have been violated, you're welcome to lawyer up and attempt to sue your way past layers of immunity and multiple, ultra-flexible warrant exceptions.

But while this administration talks a good game about respect for law and order, it certainly doesn't show the respect it believes is owed to the nation's law enforcement officers. Marcy Wheeler points out this hypocrisy to devastating effect in her post dissecting (and recasting) Barr's pro-police, anti-everyone else rant.

Barr wants the public to comply immediately and without question when interacting with government employees empowered to enforce the law. But that's something he's not interested in doing himself. Replace "police" with entities empowered to police the Executive branch -- as Wheeler does here -- and Barr starts looking like the Great Unwashed he's complaining about. (Wheeler's alterations to Barr's original speech are in bold.)

The anti-oversight narrative is fanning disrespect for the law. In recent years, we have witnessed increasing toleration of the notion that it is somehow okay to resist oversight.

Previously, it was well understood that, regardless of the circumstances, legal resistance is unacceptable because it necessarily leads to a spiral of escalating resistance that endangers the ability of Congress to oversee the Executive. For that reason, virtually all jurisdictions have made resistance a serious crime.

Not too long ago influential public voices — whether in the media or among community and civic leaders — stressed the need to comply with oversight commands, even if one thinks they are unjust. “Comply first” and, if you think you have been wronged, “complain later.”

But we don’t hear this much anymore. Instead, when an incident escalates due to a suspect’s legal resistance to oversight, that fact is usually ignored by the commentary. Congress’ every action is dissected, but the suspect’s resistance, and the danger it posed, frequently goes without mention.

There's a bit more in Wheeler's post, so definitely click through and check it out. Or just grab almost any part of Barr's speech and play Executive branch mad libs with it. The end result is lengthy rant condemning people like William Barr for doing the things Barr is currently doing. Sad!

Filed Under: attorney general, congress, doj, respect police, rule of law, subpoenas, william barr


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  1. icon
    Thad (profile), 21 Aug 2019 @ 10:04am

    Re: Either bring down the hammer or admit to being spineless

    I find it a little hard to believe that all they can do is make empty gestures and wag their fingers, as if that were the case there would be no reason to give a damn what they wanted, and people could just ignore any demands to show or give testimony.

    Well, if someone ignores a congressional subpoena, Congress can call the Department of Justice to arrest them.

    But it turns out that doesn't work so well when the guy who ignored the subpoena is the head of the DoJ.

    If they've found him in contempt and it hasn't done anything then assuming they do have some power beyond finger wagging it strikes me as 'put up or shut up' time.

    They do.

    They can impeach him.

    How do you think that would go in the Senate?


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