Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

Beyond the Role of Law



Every law student promptly learns the national ideal that our country is governed by the rule of law, not the rule of men. Today, the rule of law is under attack.

Such activities have become a big business and, not surprisingly, they have involved big business.

On October 25th, Secretary Condoleeza Rice officially recognized before a House Oversight Committee that, remarkably, there was no law covering the misbehavior of Blackwater Corporation and their private police in Iraq.

Any crimes of violence committed by Blackwater and other armed contractors commissioned by the Defense and State Departments to perform guard duty and other tasks, fell into a gap between Iraqi law, from which they have been exempted by the U.S. military occupation and the laws of the United States.

Since the United States government is ruled by lawless men in the White House who have violated countless laws and treaties, Bush and Cheney clearly had no interest in placing giant corporate contractors operating inside Iraqi jurisdiction under either the military justice system or the criminal laws of the United States.

Presidential power has accumulated over the years to levels that would have alarmed the founding fathers whose constitutional framework never envisioned such raw unilateral power at the top of the Executive branch. Accordingly, they only provided for the impeachment sanction. They neither gave citizens legal standing to go to court and hold the Presidency accountable, or to prevent the two other branches from surrendering their explicit constitutional authority-such as the war-making power-to the Executive branch. The federal courts over time have refused to adjudicate cases they deem “political conflicts” between the Legislative and Executive branches or, in general, most foreign policy questions.

Being above the law’s reach, Bush and Cheney can and do use the law in ways that inflict injustice on innocent people. Politicizing the offices of the U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department, demonstrated by Congressional hearings, is one consequence of such Presidential license. Political law enforcement, using laws such as the so-called PATRIOT Act, is another widespread pattern that has drag netted thousands of innocent people into arrests and imprisonment without charges or adequate legal representation. Or the Bush regime’s use of coercive plea bargains against defendants who can’t afford leading, skilled attorneys.

Books and law journal articles have been written about times when government violates the laws. They are long on examples but short on practical remedies of what to do about it.

Corporations and their large corporate law firms have many ways to avoid the laws. First, they make sure that when Congress writes legislation, the bills advance corporate interests. For example, numerous consumer safety laws have no criminal penalties for the violations, or only the most nominal fines. The regulatory agencies often have very weak subpoena powers or authority to set urgent and mandatory safety standards without suffering years or even decades of corporate-induced delays.

If the laws prove troublesome, the corporations make sure that enforcement budgets are ridiculously tiny, with only a few federal cops on the beat. The total number of Justice Department attorneys prosecuting the corporate crime wave of the past decade, running investors, pensioners and workers into trillions of dollars of losses and damaging the health and safety of many patients and other consumers, is smaller than just one of the top five largest corporate law firms.

Out in the marketplace, environment and the workplace, the corporations have many tools forged out of their unbridled power to block aggrieved people from having their day in court or getting agencies or legislatures to stand up for the common folk.

Companies can wear down or deter plaintiffs from obtaining justice by costly motions and other delaying tactics. When people get into court and obtain some justice, the companies move toward the legislature to restrict access to the courts. This is grotesquely called “tort reform”– which takes away the rights of harmed individuals but not the corporations’ rights to have their day in court.

Lush amounts of campaign dollars grease the way for corporations in the legislatures in the fifty states and on Capitol Hill.

As if that power to pass their own laws is not enough, large corporations become their own private legislatures. You’ve been confronted with those fine-print standard form agreements asking you to sign on the dotted line if you wish to secure insurance, tenancy, credit, bank services, hospital treatment, or just a job.

Those pages of fine print are corporations regulating you! You can’t cross any of them out.

You can’t go across the street to a competitor- say from Geico to State Farm, or from Citibank to the Bank of America, because there is no competition over these fine-print contracts, with their dotted signature lines. Unless, that is, they compete over how fast they require you to give up your rights to go to court or to object to their unilaterally changing the terms of the agreement, such as in changing the terms of your frequent flier agreement on already accumulated miles

Oh, for the law schools that provide courses on the rule of men over the rule of law.

Oh, for the time when there when there will be many public interest law firms working just on these portentous dominations of concentrated power to deny open and impartial uses of the laws to achieve justice and accountability.

RALPH NADER is the author of The Seventeen Traditions



Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians