Saturday, January 24, 2009

Taking off the Blinders

With the testimony of Eric Holder insisting that torture is a crime, the wingers are obviously feeling a chill. Living up to his justifiably dreadful reputation, GOP head John Cornyn is putting a hold on the Holder nomination for Attorney General. That will not be enough to head off the inevitable.

The call for a return to Rule of Law necessarily includes enforcing the law. Without carrying out the laws, this country cannot redeem its honor that had gone missing for the past eight years.

As President Barack Obama reverses some of ex-President George W. Bush’s most controversial “war on terror” policies, a consensus seems to be building among Democratic congressional leaders that further investigations are needed into Bush’s use of torture and other potential crimes.

On Wednesday – the first working day of the Obama administration – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support funding and staff for additional fact-finding by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which last month released a report tracing abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002, decision to exclude terror suspects from Geneva Convention protections.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who issued that report, echoed Reid’s comments, saying “there needs to be an accounting of torture in this country.” Levin, D-Michigan, also said he intends to encourage the Justice Department and incoming Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate torture practices that took place while Bush was in office.

Two other key Democrats joined in this growing chorus of lawmakers saying that serious investigations should be conducted.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, a former federal prosecutor and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a floor speech, “As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.”

Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters: "Looking at what has been done is necessary.”

On Jan. 18, two days before Obama’s inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’s plan to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration “under claims of unreviewable war powers.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Pelosi specifically endorsed a probe into the politicization of the Justice Department, but didn’t spell out a position on Conyers's plan to examine the Bush administration’s torture and rendition policies, which could prove embarrassing to Pelosi and other Democratic leaders who were briefed by the CIA about these tactics.

Still, when Wallace cited Obama’s apparent unwillingness to investigate the Bush administration, Pelosi responded: “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the — for example, the Justice Department, to go unreviewed. Past is prologue. We learn from it. And my views on the subject — I don't think that Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart.”

The emerging consensus among top congressional Democrats for some form of investigation into Bush’s controversial policies has surprised some progressives who had written off the leadership long ago for blocking impeachment hearings and other proposals for holding Bush and his subordinates accountable.
Additional evidence about the Bush administration’s actions is expected to become available in the coming weeks as the Obama administration loosens the secrecy that has surrounded Bush’s “war on terror,” a phrase that Obama and his team have effectively dropped from Washington’s lexicon.

Obama’s aides have indicated that there soon may be a “public airing” of secret Justice Department legal opinions and other documents that provided the underpinning for the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation policies.

Levin also indicated that he expects to release the full Armed Services Committee report – covering an 18-month investigation – in about two or three weeks. Levin added that he would ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct its own investigation of torture as implemented by the CIA.

The information the country should have has been withheld for good reason; the occupied White House was full of criminals, and committed crimes.

The wars that we and the Middle East have had waged against us, against moral standards, and against rational bases, call for more than just a return to reality. They have sacrificed lives needlessly, torn up the countries where they were waged, and violated our country's principles. The waste is not over. There should never be a clean slate for crimes against mankind, and that would include the wars of the maladministration.

Reckoning is overdue.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

If by "reckoning" you mean a report from a 'blue-ribbon committee' composed of the usual suspects, then probably there is coming such a 'reckoning' ... in three or four or six years or so... sometime

terrible swift, that sword of justice

10:30 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Until Holder is in office, we have no Department of Justice. It may be slow, but we are progressing.

11:00 AM  
Blogger dmarks said...

Holder is a political appointee (every President makes those to the Justice Dept) but I have no problem with him at all.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slow or fast, what's important is that justice be done so that America regains her moral standing in the world, and so that this doesn't keep happening. The problem is that America sees herself as "above" the rest of the world. War crimes that would result in a German soldier being hanged, for instance, might result in an American soldier being told he's naughty.

1:39 PM  

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