The article suggests that he screwed up the landing while piloting a single-engine plane - hardly the type of Hollywood sabotage scenario invoked by this diary. A conspiracy theory needs a little more evidence than the willful imagination of a grieving relative. Much as I dislike Rove, I highly doubt that he has an invisible cabal of assassins at his beck and call.
If people take the time to look up "UpstateDem" at Daily Kos, who interestingly posted an identical diary, and then look at the history of that poster, it would lend a certain amount of perspective to this diary. UpstateDem is a very concerned individual.
I appreciate your belief, but I think it is at odds with the Constitution as it has been interpreted. Retroactive taxation has been approved of by the Supreme Court. The cases dealing with bills of attainder have dealt with legislation regulating closed groups of people (either individuals specified by name or groups where membership was no longer open). The issue is not a slam-dunk for the government, but I think that the government would clearly have the upper hand. The broad language you cited is nice and all, but that dicta isn't binding.
If AIG said that, then certainly they would have a breach of contract action (of course, if the tax were in place when AIG said that, then they may not want to incur the legal fees of litigation because they would have no bonus to show for it, even if they won).
I understand that someone could make an argument that sounds plausible. And, I don't even necessarily agree with this legislation anyway. But, if people want this passed, then shouldn't they see it through on the judicial end? Especially when there have only been a handful of cases, and none really on point, when a court has struck down legislation as a bill of attainder? I personally would be willing to test it in front of the Supreme Court - keep in mind that these same people also detest legislative history and substantive due process. It's not clear to me that all of the intangibles break the way of the AIG employees.
There's no balancing test for a bill of attainder - it either is one or it isn't. Also, as I think we discussed in the other thread, the Supreme Court has endorsed the general principle of retroactive tax legislation, which presumably would dilute the penal aspect.
But it is a forward-looking proposal in addition to a backward-looking one. Yes, certain employees at AIG presumably would be taxed (some may not be, depending on the income threshold), but there is an unidentifiable class of additional people to whom this may apply, nevermind whether or not this is indeed a punishment for purposes of this analysis. I mean, first we're talking about a subset of AIG bonus recipients (those who make more than $250k or whatever), then there may be other companies whose employees are affected, then there may be future companies/employees. Congress was certainly influenced to act by AIG, but it's not a closed group of people that Congress seeks to regulate.
In Lovett, certain people were identified by name in the legislation itself and essentially banned from working for the federal government. In Cummings, people were banned from holding public office or from working in certain professions if they did not subscribe to an oath that they had never supported the Confederacy. Those situations are not remotely similar to a case in which a private employee may be taxed a certain rate on income above $250k (or whatever the threshold is). Their livelihoods are not being destroyed and they received the money funding their bonuses directly from the federal government in the first place.
Moreover, I would point out that many taxes are targeted at certain groups within society - taxes that vary based upon home ownership, family size, marital status, etc. Simply because there is a small group of companies receiving bailout funds does not mean that laws regulating those companies or their employees raise bill of attainder issues.