Friday, January 23, 2009

John Conyers Jr. - Learning the Lessons of the Bush Imperial Presidency - washingtonpost.com

I find myself tempted by the idea of pursuing Bush Administration officials but at the same time I agree with Obama that this cannot be his prime focus. Of the reasons for going after the previous administration, I found John Conyers' Learning the Lessons of the Bush Imperial Presidency persuasive and view of how to do it without becoming mired in the horse manure:
"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.

Some day, there is bound to be another national security crisis in America. A future president will face the same fear and uncertainty that we did after Sept. 11, 2001, and will feel the same temptation to believe that the ends justify the means -- temptation that drew our nation over to the "dark side" under the leadership of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. If those temptations are to be resisted -- if we are to face new threats in a manner that keeps faith with our values and strengthens rather than diminishes our authority around the world -- we must fully learn the lessons of our recent past.

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