It will be a cold day in hell when a person with my politics will be appointed to be the Attorney General of the United States. The Attorney General is the head of the misnamed Department of Justice, better named the Department of Injustice. She (one woman has held the job since 1789) is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, and enforces or does not enforce federal criminal and civil laws including civil rights laws. Agencies such as the FBI (US political police) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) come under its umbrella. Even within the context of a capitalist structure and a legal system that currently oppresses the high majority of the population the Attorney General could turn this society on its head and take important steps toward a more equal, less oppressive and freer society.
What I have suggested below are arguably transitional steps that contain within them the potential of aiding a revolutionary transformation of society. I want to stress that none of these can be achieved without a massive mobilization of people in the streets. Ultimately, only with socialism will we live in a society where law will work for people and not be employed as a means to protect the ruling class.
Let’s assume I take office on January 20, 2013, the same day Obama takes the oath of office for his second term.
What do I do on the first day? I could number a sheet of paper from 1-100 which would reflect many of the actions I would take. However, for today, let’s start with the top 10. I would begin by not enforcing certain laws which I have the right to do; then I would investigate and prosecute the real bad guys.
- Handcuff the FBI not activists! Protect our right to dissent and protest by ending FBI surveillance, spying, wiretapping, racial and ethnic profiling, use of informants and entrapment of activists and others not engaging in criminal
- No criminal prosecutions of those involved in the sale or personal use of all drugs! Recommend the immediate parole of all persons jailed for crimes relating to drugs.
- Recommend parole for tens of thousands in federal prisons including those convicted as juveniles, political prisoners such as Native American activist Leonard Peltier, and those serving over twenty years! Those remaining should be treated humanely (no solitary), and given educational programs. Ultimately, prisons must be abolished. “When the prison doors are opened, the real dragon will fly out.” Ho Chi Minh
- No prosecution of the undocumented! No more criminal enforcement of immigration laws including Operation Streamline which has resulted in criminal prosecution and jail sentences of scores of thousands of immigrants
- End the prosecution of truth tellers and internet activists! Bradley Manning, Jeremy Hammond, Julian Assange, Barrett Brown, Aaron Swartz and untold others who seek to expose criminality and challenge corporate control of information which should be free to all.
- Don’t Enforce the Tax Laws against those forced to carry the burden for the rich! The Attorney General cannot change the tax code, but can refuse enforcement of its unequal burden. No criminal prosecution or civil enforcement actions against people or families who earn under $40,000 and who refuse to pay taxes. Tax the rich, not those with lower incomes.
- Indict and Prosecute Obama and administration officials for murder by targeted assassination! A federal judge recently said, in the context of the drone killing of Anwar Al-Awalki, that the President could be subject to prosecution under a US statute prohibiting “Foreign Murder of United States.”
- Indict and prosecute the Bush torture team! Bush, Cheney, former CIA head Tenet, scores of others and the lawyers such as Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo who tried to justify the practice.
- Too big to fail; too big not to be in jail! Bank and financial institutional fraud was one of the main causes of the 2007 continuing Yet, 2011 saw prosecutions of financial institutions fall by half from the decade before. Prosecuting bank and financial fraud is a necessity. Another crash is inevitable under our current capitalist system, but its severity can perhaps be limited by going after the big, bad banks.
- Propose a law similar to that in Bolivia, Law of the Rights of Mother Earth (Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra)! The law gives a legal personality to the human community, and life/ecosystems. Even prior to trying to pass such a law I would ensure that all of the federal agencies under the Department of Justice protect Mother Earth and her life systems. I would attempt to enforce those rights in court by seeking to protect indigenous communities and their culture, the right to water, clean air and to live free from contamination.
While the above actions are possible under our current capitalist system, as I said, they are unlikely without a mass movement making militant demands.
I want to conclude with a paragraph by my friend Michael Smith who is co- editing a forth coming book: Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA
“Law in America is sold as an impartial force for justice and equality. The frauds of formal equality of rights and the apparent neutrality of judges was brilliantly pierced by Anatole France’s oft quoted remark that the law in all its majesty forbids all persons, whether rich or poor, from sleeping under bridges. With socialism in America, the people will own the bridges, they’ll sleep peacefully and contentedly with a roof over their heads knowing full well that they have created a society where the law won’t work against them and in the words of that great manifesto “where the full development of each is the condition of the full development of all.”