let's say that the "independent executive review board" (whatever that may be, exactly) is right that the nsa surveillance programs are illegal (than which nothing could be more obvious). and then stipulate that we live under the rule of law. (admittedly, i have argued that rule of law is conceptually impossible, on multiple grounds; let's take seriously the way politicians talk for a second.) well then, actual persons have committed actual crimes. general keith b. alexander has committed literally billions of criminal acts. if no one is above the law, then if these things are indeed illegal, then every person embedded in this bureaucracy ought to be prosecuted as an individual. correct? that's what their own rhetoric, which admittedly is a bunch of bullshit, demands. barack obama and george w. bush are guilty of directing a vast criminal conspiracy. indeed, this is as extreme a case as you'll run into of racketeering, as organized a crime syndicate as has ever existed.
here's how a pres gets out of this: "alberto gonzales wrote me a memo saying it was ok!" i suggest you try that in your next trial for murder, rape, theft, or whetever hobbies you may have of which the authorities disapprove. really, that's the defense? your own lackeys told you that organized crime was no prob? anyway, if we just held these people to their own proclaimed standards and their own simulated sacred commitments and deepest beliefs, anarchy would be here this afternoon. and i just want to remark to the conspirators as they gaze into the mirror that you can indeed immunize yourself from the legal consequences. you can't be imprisoned if you've already hung yourself in shame at your betrayal of your selves. this is where roman senators fell on their swords or samurai committed seppeku. where's your honor, man?