Friday, January 16, 2009

Conyers Gets It

It was somewhat cheering to see that a member of Congress, John Conyers (D-MI) understands what we've been screaming about for weeks. We can't just walk away from the last eight years. His op-ed piece in today's Washington Post is a clear call for investigations and, as appropriate, prosecutions of those who did such damage to this country and to the world.

I understand that many feel we should just move on. They worry that addressing these actions by the Bush administration will divert precious energy from the serious challenges facing our nation. I understand the power of that impulse. Indeed, I want to move on as well -- there are so many things that I would rather work on than further review of Bush's presidency. But in my view it would not be responsible to start our journey forward without first knowing exactly where we are.

We cannot rebuild the appropriate balance between the branches of government without fully understanding how that relationship has been distorted. Likewise, we cannot set an appropriate baseline for future presidential conduct without documenting and correcting the presidential excesses that have just occurred. ...

First, Congress should continue to pursue its document requests and subpoenas that were stonewalled under President Bush. Doing so will make clear that no executive can forever hide its misdeeds from the public.

Second, Congress should create an independent blue-ribbon panel or similar body to investigate a host of previously unreviewable activities of the Bush administration, including its detention, interrogation and surveillance programs. Only by chronicling and confronting the past in a comprehensive, bipartisan fashion can we reclaim our moral authority and establish a credible path forward to meet the complex challenges of a post-Sept. 11 world.

Third, the new administration should conduct an independent criminal probe into whether any laws were broken in connection with these activities. Just this week, in the pages of this newspaper, a Guantanamo Bay official acknowledged that a suspect there had been "tortured" -- her exact word -- in apparent violation of the law. The law is the law, and, if criminal conduct occurred, those responsible -- particularly those who ordered and approved the violations -- must be held accountable.
[Emphasis added]

Congressman Conyers is right. If we are ever to return to a constitutional government which is limited by the guarantees of civil liberty, if we are ever to return to a nation of laws, rather than the domineering influence of a father figure who rules by fear, we need to find out how we got to where we are and how to prevent that from ever happening again. And that means we cannot just move on.

I urge you to email or fax the entire text of Congressman Conyers' column to all three of your congress critters, making it clear that you support all three of his proposals and that they reflect the bare minimum of what you will accept. I also suggest you do the same with respect to President Obama at 12:01 PM on January 20th.

This is our government, and Congress, the courts, and the administration are our employees. It's time we made governance more interactive.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully, nothing will come of this.

It's insane to harass people like Conyers wants to do, for properly doing the job they were supposed to do.

4:06 AM  

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