Republicans Reject Truth Commission So Let's Prosecute

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    Bob Fertik
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Democratic "leaders" desperately want to sweep the most heinous crimes of the Bush-Cheney administration under the rug, rather than prosecute those crimes according to the Rule of Law. Today, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy proposed a "truth commission," which he called

a middle ground to find the truth.  We need to get to the bottom of what happened -- and why -- so we make sure it never happens again. 

Notice what is glaringly missing - any form of accountability. Of course, the only way to "make sure it never happens again" is to punish those who just did it. Otherwise they will come back in 4 or 8 years and commit all the same crimes again, only worse!

Yet even without accountability, the top House Judiciary Committee GOP member rejected Leahy's proposal out of hand.

"No good purpose is served by continuing to persecute those who served in the previous administration," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "President Obama promised to usher in an era of "change" and bipartisan harmony. Unfortunately, the continued effort by some Democrats to unjustly malign former Bush Administration officials is politics as usual," Smith said.

Smith cited the four detailed reports stemming from Inspector General investigations, and said recommendations made have been implemented. He said Democrats also had already conducted a two year inquiry in public hearings.

"Rather than continuing to waste taxpayers' time and money on fruitless finger-pointing, Congress should focus on the future and what we can do to help the American people during these difficult times," Smith added.

If Senator Leahy and other Democratic leaders have any illusions that any Republicans will cooperate with a "Truth Commission," they need to listen to Lamar Smith's uncompromising rhetoric, and also count the number of Republicans who voted for President Obama's Recovery Act - namely 0.

A bitterly divisive Truth Commission is a waste of everyone's time. So rather than waste time, Attorney General Eric Holder should immediately appoint a Special Prosecutor to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the Bush-Cheney crimes and prosecute everyone who broke the law. Please join over 40,000 Americans who have urged Eric Holder to act now.

Update 1: Sen. Leahy created a Straw Man to dis everyone who believes in the Rule of Law:

There are others who say that, even if it takes all of the next eight years, divides this country, and distracts from the necessary priority of fixing the economy, we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker. 

Senator Leahy, I defy you to name one leading advocate who takes that position. Those of us who support the Rule of Law want a Special Prosecutor like Patrick Fitzgerald. Did Fitzgerald take 8 years? Did he divide the country? Did he distract from urgent priorities? Absolutely not. He simply did his job out of the limelight, exactly the way all prosecutors are supposed to operate.

Update 2: David Swanson spells out all the reasons why a Truth Commission is a waste of time - or worse.

A commission with no power to punish anyone except through shame is powerless in an age of shamelessness. The commission's subpoenas would be enforced through the courts, allowing the process to be dragged out well beyond a year and a half, or allowing witnesses to refuse compliance. All of this delay would simply serve to bolster claims that the crimes of the past eight years are unimportant because in the past. And if the commission offered criminal immunity to witnesses in order to entice them to testify, then its result would be permanently blocking prosecutions in the name of revealing the "truth."

Update 3: Some Democratic "leaders" believe getting "the truth" is more important than holding criminals accountable. They would even give full immunity to the criminals to get "the truth." That's utterly insane.

First, "The truth" about Bush's Torture System is easily available from numerous books - and of course from victims who would be more than happy to testify under oath if Congress simply asked. There are also honest officials inside the government who would testify without immunity if subponaed. So why give immunity to the criminals instead of prosecuting them for their heinous crimes?

Second, George Bush and Dick Cheney already told their side of the story in their final interviews. They authorized torture because they believed it would prevent attacks, and they believe it worked! Those who know better - like the interrogator with the pseudonym "Matthew Alexander" who wrote an op ed in the Washington Post and was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show - would be happy to testify without immunity.

Finally, even if Democrats don't want to prosecute torturers, the United States is obligated to do so under the Convention Against Torture, which was signed by Ronald Reagan.

Update 4: Chris Bowers can't get answers from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:

Over the past month, I have placed four calls and an email to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's press department asking if, based on the Senator's calls for such investigations, what he would actually do in make such investigations come to pass. None of my contacts have been returned. So, I think I will ditch contacting Senator Whitehouse on this matter at all, and just inquire directly with the Judiciary chair's staff, and / or his committee staff.

I have contacted about a dozen Senators or their offices over the past month. Only Kerry and Whitehouse have failed to get back to me. Not sure if this is because of a different attitude toward online media, toward my relevant inexperience in such contacts, toward responding to constituents vs. non-constituents, or some other factor entirely. Whatever it is, the lack of responsiveness from Senator Whitehouse's staff is kind of frustrating.

Frankly I'm not surprised. Democratic "leaders" are terrified of investigations and I'm sure they told Whitehouse to shut up.