One of the issues that our new President has to face is the call to investigate and possibly prosecute members of the Administration of George W Bush for a myriad of crimes, most importantly torture.
President Obama has made it clear he would prefer not to go there. He understands, as most do, that prosecuting members of the previous administration would be a major distraction from what he is trying to accomplish, would damage his efforts to move forward on issues in a Bipartisan fashion, and might, in the end, only yield minor convictions of peripheral characters.
He should do it anyway.
I have no interest in seeing Congress doing the investigating. It would be immediately politicized, Congress would give immunity to people we should be investigating or even prosecuting, and they have more important things to do.
Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint a Special Prosecutor. Perhaps Patrick Fitzgerald after he is done with Blogovich. Or a career prosecutor that was hired by the Bush Justice Department, or another holdover US Attorney.
There is little doubt that employees of the United States Government tortured people held in their custody. The Convening Authority for the Military Tribunals has already dismissed all charges against one of the prisoners held at GITMO specifically that person had been tortured by military interrogators. President Bush admitted to and defended water boarding of prisoners. At the end of WWII we prosecuted Japanese Officers for Water boarding our prisoners. How can we argue that we are above the law, that its OK for us to torture?
The Bush Administration argued exactly that. They were wrong. Torture is immoral and illegal.
It is also clear that the Bush Administration monitored the phone calls, some of them purely domestic phone calls, without a warrant. A clear and unequivocal violation of the Constitution ever Military Officer and every President swears to protect.
One of the ways that we can and should recover our standing in the world is by showing that we don't' hold ourselves to be above our own laws, let alone international laws.
As an aside, were the tables reversed, I have no doubt that a Republican Administration, and/or a Republican controlled congress would pursue those investigations with vigor.
We must pursue the investigations, in as non-partisan and transparent was as possible to remind ourselves and prove to the rest of the world that we are a Nation of Laws.
Despite the cost, despite the distraction, its something we must do.
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