David Kirkpatrick

April 9, 2009

Bush 43 truth commission

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:05 am

Talk of some type of truth commission looking into the Bush 43 administration’s use of torture is gaining currency. Particularly now that an international court has opened a probe into possible war crimes authorized by the Bush legal team.

Politico’s “The Arena” asked the question, “Legal commentator Stuart Taylor has proposed a Senate committee probe led by John McCain into Bush administration interrogation practices. Good idea? If not, what’s yours? On that subject, should the administration protest a Spanish investigation begun recently?”

The answers were varied and interesting.

Here’s a small sample from the second link.

Nothing surprising here:

Christine Pelosi, Attorney, author and Democratic activist:

We say the United States does not torture. Let’s prove it. A bipartisan, bicameral House-Senate effort by the key committees of jurisdiction to hold public hearings into the Bush practices and Obama proposals will suffice. They can operate independently as they currently do on the budget, the wars, and the TARP, or they could work together to consolidate witnesses and resources as the joint House-Senate Intelligence committees did after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Either way, they can start with a review of the alleged torture-authorizing memosauthored by Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel and other data at the heart of the matter that are currently being withheld by the Obama administration under secrecy and immunity claims. This oversight is Congress doing its job by and for the American people. We don’t need a special committee or a Spanish inquisition – just good old fashioned American accountability.

Pragmatic and reasonable:

Mickey Edwards, Princeton lecturer and former Republican congressman:

The issues involved — and they go far beyond interrogation and rendition — should be investigated in “the regular order

It’s not a matter of investigating the activities of “the Bush Administration,” a characterization that trivializes the question by turning it into a partisan issue, but of examining whether the United States government was guilty of misconduct and whether the executive branch violated the Constitution.
Viewing the issue in partisan or Administration-specific terms creates a predictably partisan choosing of sides.

The issues involved — and they go far beyond interrogation and rendition — should be investigated in “the regular order” either by appropriate legislative committees, performing their proper oversight duties, or by an ad hoc bipartisan legislative committee with co-chairs from the two political parties. In other words, the Congress should, at long last, do its job.

As for my fellow Republicans who oppose such an investigation, what can be said? Have we, who were the voice of limited government and the Constitution, now become the protectors of government, shielding it from the people and defending its abuses? Have we now become the very enemy we feared? Have we finally abandoned any pretense of being a party of principle? So it would appear.

And here’s a classic misdirection. What was that question again?

Bradley A. Blakeman, Republican strategist, consultant, entrepreneur:

On another note: Cuba visit just PR

I am sickened by the love fest that occurred between the Dictator Brothers, Raul and Fidel Castro and members of the Congressional Black Caucus who just returned from Cuba. They were taken in by these despots and sung their praises in Cuba and on their return to America. They are nothing but dupes, who were played like a fiddle by a regime who is brutal to their people. Their visit is nothing but a propaganda bonanza for Cuba’s internal and external uses. I assume they are planning their next tax payer paid junket to visit Chavez of Venezuela and Kin Jong il of North Korea.

It’s worth the time to go check out all the reactions, proposals, answers and non-answers from the various respondents.

February 14, 2009

Obama, truth commissions, rendition and transparency

Here is a long, but interesting, roundup of opinion on how the Obama administration is handling the misdeeds, and possible criminal behavior, of the Bush 43 administration, and transparency in the DOJ and counterterrorism policy.

All of this will be points of discussion for a long while.

Bush team members will have a domestic axe over their collective heads until something definitive is worked out by the Obama administration regarding war crimes that were committed. These same officials will always have an international axe dangling loosely. I’m guessing quite a few can’t travel to a number of European countries lest they get nabbed and hauled to the Hague for trial.

Transparency, the Department of Justice and counterterrorism policy will always be a politcal football regardless which party is in power and setting policy.

If these subjects interest you it’s worth the time to hit this link and read Tobin Harshaw’s extensive roundup of bloggy goodness. Lots of opinions and good arguments, and if you’re really into the topics there are links galore to even more of the same.

Here’s Harshaw’s lede:

While President Obama has made it pretty clear he’d like to move on, the idea of prosecuting members of the Bush administration for its counterterrorism programs and other alleged misdeeds refuses to die. Rep. John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who heads the House Judiciary Committee, has been making noises about investigations and criminal charges for a while and now Patrick Leahy, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called for a “truth commission” — a “a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind” with a “straightforward mission … to find the truth.”

Well, before we set out in search of axeless Washingtonians, a rare breed indeed, let’s discuss all the options. Leahy’s idea is probably along the lines of what Jack Balkin of Yale Law School recommended in a Times Op-Ed article last month: “create presidential commissions and Congressional oversight hearings on various subjects: detention and interrogation practices, extraordinary rendition, reform of military commissions and reform of surveillance practices. These different commissions have different objects and functions; a single truth commission could not begin to address them all.”

For some on the left, this is soft stuff. Sharing the page with Balkin, Dahlia Lithwick wrote that “Some commentators have suggested that any such truth commission should promise immunity or a pardon in exchange for truthful testimony, but I believe that if it becomes clear that laws were broken, or that war crimes were committed, a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate further.”