A Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Senator Leahy's proposal:

We need to get to the bottom of what happened -- and why -- so we make sure it never happens again. One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth commission. . . . President Obama is right that we cannot afford extreme partisanship and debilitating divisions. . . . Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. Sometimes the best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again. . . We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past. It is something to be considered.

I do not know if I agree with this approach, but given the statements today from President Obama and Attorney General Holder, it is something to be considered.

Speaking for me only

< President Obama's Statement On The Torture Memos | Text of the Torture Memos >
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    For the people who wrote the memos (5.00 / 8) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:36:37 PM EST
    that isn't enough. They need to be prosecuted.

    But (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:27:50 PM EST
    Weren't they working at the behest of BushCo to figure out a way to make torture legal? Seems to me that if they were going to be prosecuted than at the very least their bosses should be prosecuted first. These were not a group of rogue lawyers planning to undermine the Bush administration, they were ordered to write these things.

    Granted the fact that these guys should never be able to practice law again making them take the fall for their bosses seems wrong to me.


    These people have agency (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:31:30 PM EST
    Bush and Cheney didn't just push buttons marked "write torture memo."

    you dont think so? (none / 0) (#23)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:32:55 PM EST
    I think they did just that.

    Perhaps Not (none / 0) (#72)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:58:00 PM EST
    But more than likely what they did was worse. IMO, they were already authorizing torture and decided after the fact to get some twisted paper blessing their misdeeds.

    your priorities sheesh... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:24:11 PM EST
    ...hehe. Prosecuting the underlings is how you get to the bigger players.

    Rat Out Their Bosses? (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:52:54 PM EST
    The memos were created because their bosses needed legal justification for torture. Torture is illegal, their bosses do not need ratting out, they are already out holding the bag, imo.

    Would if have made sense to hold of prosecuting Hiltler while his legal advisor Hans Frank is tried at Nuremburg and gets the rope for war crimes.


    That Arguement (none / 0) (#84)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:54:58 PM EST
    didn't fly so well at Nuremburg.

    Godwin's law: (none / 0) (#88)
    by jtaylorr on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:23:10 PM EST
    "As an internet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

    Yes but sometimes its actually relevant. (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:59:08 PM EST
    Huh? (none / 0) (#93)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:05:17 PM EST
    Did I even suggest that these creeps should not fry? In the Nuremberg the bosses fried first, save for the ones that killed themselves or escaped.

    If I'm not mistaken, Leahy (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:37:15 PM EST
    has since stated that since he has not been able to get a single Republican to sign on, he has abandoned the idea; says if all it is is Democrats, it just becomes a partisan witch hunt.

    I'm thinking it would be called that no matter who was on the commission, so why not just go for it?

    I am probably being naive about this, because maybe the kinds of things described in those memos have been going on for a lot longer than just the last 8 years, but I felt a real sense of shame that these things were not just done in the name of my country, but there was an affirmative and calculating effort to do them.

    Anger is something I am quite familiar with; shame and disgust - and sorrow - are much more painful.

    I hope he reconsiders that, and goes for it (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:44:27 PM EST
    If it is done in a serious reasoned manner, with no grandstanding, the right can call it a witchhunt all they want, and let the public judge. Leahy should be able to keep the tone appropriate.

    I kwow what you mean - I am not used to feeling such shame and sorrow at what has been done in my name. It is so completely wrong, and defenseless in my opinion. But I'm willing to hear them out in a public forum.


    Wish the Republicans had been so (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:46:00 PM EST
    concerned about looking like a witch hunt during the non-stop accusations they threw at Clinton for eight solid years.

    Apparently, sexual trysts between (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:49:37 PM EST
    two consenting adults are far worse than torturing someone.  Pretty weird.  

    the difference it seems to me (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:59:53 PM EST
    is that Obama seems genuinely concerned about actually, you know, governing.
    something the republicans never cared about.
    and look where it got them.

    Really this issue is not about Obama (5.00 / 8) (#16)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:17:29 PM EST
    or Republicans or Democrats.  It is about torture and what we as a society believe is acceptable behavior.  

    Elliot Spitzer had to step down as governor because he hired a hooker and the DOJ was threatening to prosecute him under the Mann Act.

    Bernie Madoff stole a bunch of money from a bunch of rich people and he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail.

    But you can be a sick, sadistic xxx and torture people and you get to go off on your merry way?

    People caught with a dime bag of pot get into more trouble than any of these people have thus far.

    Paris Hilton drives drunk and everyone wants her head!

    I think we have a serious a problem if we can't bring ourselves to deal with this problem properly.


    hard to argue with that (none / 0) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:28:50 PM EST
    the difference in opinion is about priorities.
    for me I would rather prevent our country from turning into India over the next 18 months than to focus our collective energies on some quixotic and probably ultimately pointless quest for 'justice" that would most likely the thwarted anyway.
    in spite of how good it might feel in the short term.

    IMO what you describe is a republican wet dream.
    it would distract the country and the administration enough to achieve paralysis.  which is all they want.


    Counting on the quest for justice to be (5.00 / 8) (#32)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:53:17 PM EST
    considered "pointless" plays right into the hands of those who would subvert it; what does the "rule of law" mean if you are determined to ignore it when it gets too hard - or you decide we're too busy with other things to observe it?  Seems to me that if you are worried about attaining Third World status, the economy is not the only way we could get there.

    I thought we were going to be setting higher standards, not accepting the mediocre ones - wasn't that supposed to be part of Obama's "change?"  That is not change I can believe in.

    Honestly, if we cannot, as a nation, walk and chew gum at the same time, we are screwed.


    Well, We're Screwed (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:14:34 PM EST
    We have evolved into an ADD society. If the past 8 years have shown us anything it's how willingly people can be distracted by the "something shiney over there" tactics politicians employ. The kind of people that spend time focusing on what's going on in America, let alone the world, are few and far between.
    I find it absolutely staggering the number of people you come across whose lives revolve around "reality" TV. They know more about who was eliminated on "American Idol" or "Dancing With the Stars" than whats going on under their noses. Sadly, this has become America's legacy.
    IMO, there can be NO excuse for not prosecuting those who have committed these horrible crimes against humanity!

    Yeah. (none / 0) (#46)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:25:11 PM EST
    Torquemada got off scot free. So did Vorbis.

    The problem (none / 0) (#30)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:47:28 PM EST
    is that Obama doesn't realize what he's dealing with. You can not deal with the GOP. It's as simple as that and until he realizes that we are going to just have a continuation of the Bush adminstration.

    I can't recall any leading Republican (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:44:14 PM EST
    who recommended moving on because our government had more important things on its plate than whether or not the President had sex with an intern.

    Also, per Anne's post above, Leahy has not been able to get a single Republican to sign on to holding a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I know several Democrats publicly lambasted President Clinton actions. Lieberman instantly comes to mind.

    Republicans can and do carry on their antics with the help and encouragement of Democratic politicians. They have no reason to stop.  


    consider where the tepublicans are today (none / 0) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:56:29 PM EST
    and think some more about that

    Never going to happen (none / 0) (#24)
    by Catch 22 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:39:07 PM EST
    And Leahy knows it. His entire proposal from the beginning was nothing more than scoring political points. Which is OK I guess because that is what politicians have done since eternity.

    Obama joined Bush today in sweeping the entire matter under the Oval Office carpet. Now any hearing in congress would also become an implicit indictment on Obama's complicity on the matter. Ain't going to happen.


    FWIW (none / 0) (#71)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:54:41 PM EST
    Leahy has absolutely zero need to score political points with his constituents here in Vermont.  So if  that's what he's doing, it's on someone else's behalf, not his own.

    I don't doubt he has (none / 0) (#78)
    by Catch 22 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:22:46 PM EST
    a lock on Vermont. But all high profile politicians need to be heard. That is how they remain high profile and how they keep their lock on their state. Toss in that he is a committee chairman and it is an unwritten rule that he has to make some noise.

    So, perception rules? (5.00 / 6) (#4)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:44:37 PM EST
    says if all it is is Democrats, it just becomes a partisan witch hunt

    Standing up for what's right is secondary?


    The only thing that doesn't (5.00 / 8) (#6)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:46:43 PM EST
    look entirely like a partisan witch hunt is a trial in a court of law.  Just sayin'.

    Yes, that seems about right. (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:10:31 PM EST
    Prosecute them in a court of law.  A congressionally appointed commission would be doomed from the start.

    Whatever Happened (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:18:32 PM EST
    to the whole "with Liberty and Justice for all" pledge thing?

    If this goes back to Clinton.... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:15:10 PM EST
    ...Bush, Reagan, further, so be it. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. Prosecute all of them.

    Agree with Andgarden's point that the (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Joelarama on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:49:10 PM EST
    authors of the worst memos should be prosecuted.  

    The public shaming of those redacted persons who carried this out might, just might be enough if the memo writers are brought to justice.

    At least one of the writers (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:53:14 PM EST
    is apparently subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Senate. Subject to action by the House, of course.

    John Conyers should be writing up articles of impeachment for Bybee.


    Would be interesting to watch (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:24:18 PM EST
    Since only 13 federal judges in the history of the country have been impeached, 7 of which have been convicted.  It's pretty rare to do so. But I caution you with that thought - if judges can be impeached for opinions they rendered before they were judges, then you might set up a situation where many more benches are cleared because this is a political fight,. especially as Judge Bybee has not legally done anything more than issue an opinion. You may not like the opinion, and may even think his conclusions led to criminal acts, but as of now, that hasn't been legally proven. In fact, Tom DeLay wanted to do this very thing.

    Here's an alternate explanation.


    Impeachment is political: news at 11! (none / 0) (#21)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:30:16 PM EST
    I don't care that DeLay suggested it. It is clearly an appropriate remedy for an individual who authorized torture in an official memo.

    Probably he ought to go to jail for a very long time.


    MaybeB (none / 0) (#29)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:47:24 PM EST
    But so far all you've got is he wrote a memo offering a legal opinion for his bosses, who happened to be the Executive Branch, and the fact that you happen to think his legal opinion led to criminal acts.  You really want to open that can of worms before there is something more legally concrete?

    He wrote that torture is ok (none / 0) (#37)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:57:00 PM EST
    It proves he has bad judgment. Just read what he wrote during the impeachment trial and take note of those that vote against his impeachment.

    So? (2.00 / 1) (#42)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:07:08 PM EST
    If you went after every judge and tried to impeach them for every opinion he or she wrote, or every position s/he advocated before they got on the bench, then you would probably have very few judges left sitting on the bench.  You can't even go after a judge for opinions s/he wrote while on the bench for "bad judgment" - that's a subjective standard.

    Do I like what he wrote?  No.  Do I think those that perpetrated this should be punished? Yes, but there is a way to do that, a way that does not seem palatable to the current administration.  But going after him right now with what little there is - just his opinion to his boss, would be a disaster.  

    Oh, and guess what?  When the Republicans are back in power (and they WILL be back in power some day), they will start looking at every judge appointed by a Democrat and will start impeachment proceedings for what someone wrote while on law review 30 years ago.


    You don't think this is different? (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:33:37 PM EST

    I think (none / 0) (#56)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:51:06 PM EST
    You set a very bad precedent for future judges, if they can be impeached based on legal opinions they authored, especially before they were judges. The other 13 judges that were impeached were impeached for these reasons.  Notice still, only 7 were convicted.

    You need more than a written legal opinion.


    If we had known about the opinions (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:54:37 PM EST
    when we should have, Bybee might not be sitting on the bench; he could just be disbarred and slink off to think about pulling the wings off flies and incinerating ants with a magnifying glass...

    Maybe (none / 0) (#60)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:02:18 PM EST
    But that is an entirely different argument.

    If we'd known about Scalia's opinions, maybe he wouldn't be on the bench, but that doesn't mean we have a reason to impeach him.


    Right and wrong are relative so... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:05:06 PM EST
    ...justice is impossible. Really?

    I wasn't necessarily arguing for (none / 0) (#62)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:07:49 PM EST
    Bybee's impeachment because of his OLC opinions, as much as I was arguing for why we need to know about these things before we go appointing people to the bench.

    Oh, I absolutely agree (none / 0) (#64)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:14:13 PM EST
    Here's another example:

    A criminal defense attorney defends a client accused of assault and rape. (Assume no convincing physical evidence). The attorney writes a brief for the court, and also orally argues, that her client is of good moral character and could not, would not have committed such a heinous act.  The attorney presents witnesses attesting to the upstanding character of the defendant. The defendant is acquitted and goes out and rapes and tortures another woman.  Do we disbar the defense attorney for "showing bad judgment" in advocating for her client? Do we bring charges against her?


    Bad comparison (none / 0) (#95)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:03:32 PM EST
    Nice try, but lame.

    That's a terrible example, sorry. (none / 0) (#100)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:30:07 PM EST
    If Bybee and Bradbury had been retained to defend Bush, or anyone else in the administration, in a court of law, they would be doing nothing more and nothing less than the attorney in your example.

    But let's say that the client in your example comes to his attorney and says, "this is what I want to do: I want to force women to have sex with me, and I want to tie them up, beat them up and confine them before I do it.  Tell me if I can do that within the law."  And let's say that the attorney in your example does exactly that - gives his client a legal opinion that he can do what he wants.  And let's say the client carries out his plan, gets arrested and lands in jail.  How is the attorney not complicit in helping the client break the law?

    Well, it seems like that would be a matter for a judge and jury to decide, doesn't it?

    As far as I'm concerned, Bybee should be called to account, within the legal system, and made to face the music.  If that means that he is removed from the bench and found criminally responsible for his actions, so be it.

    If we're a nation of laws, then Bybee gets no special treatment.  And neither do the people who asked him for the opinion, who then used it to justify a policy and an agenda that was and is abhorrent and criminal.


    Oh, boy (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:03:28 PM EST
    have you actually read the Bybee memo?  First of all, it's not written to his boss but to the guy at the CIA who's apparently in charge of deciding whether to torture Abu Zubayda, and refers incessantly to "You have said," "You assert," "You have reported that," yada, yada, yada, as if he's also setting this guy up to be solely responsible in case the CYA fails.

    Secondly, I'm no lawyer, but it doesn't read in the least like a purely advisory legal opinion, it reads like a legal authorization and preemptive point-by-point legalistic excuse for why the laws against torture don't apply to what they want to do to Zubayda.

    It reads like somebody told him (presumably Cheney or Addington), Go figure out a legal defense for why what we want to do to Zubayda isn't actually, strictly speaking, really torture.


    Yes, I've read it (1.00 / 1) (#77)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:11:48 PM EST
    But since an Assistant Attorney General can't order the CIA to leave the lights on in a room, let alone carry out torture, then it is a legal opinion. That order only comes from the top. And since people here want to impeach him, my point was you probably can't do that just because he wrote a legal opinion that you don't like, otherwise, we'd have all criminal defense attorneys and such disbarred.  You need more to impeach a federal judge than just the fact that he used "bad judgment". And since we have no knowledge at this point that he wrote this memo after the fact at the behest of Cheney, Addington, or anyone, all this is pure conjecture and personally, I don't believe people should be impeached on pure conjecture.

    He can be impeached for any reason or no reason (5.00 / 3) (#80)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:32:24 PM EST
    Impeachment is political.

    Yep, we learned that about a decade (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:43:51 PM EST
    ago. :)

    First of all (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:04:17 AM EST
    please point out to me where I advocated for impeaching him as a judge because of what he did in the OLC.

    Secondly, you need to admit that you are flat wrong in saying he wrote the memo to his "boss," which is what I was trying to set you straight on.  He was not.

    Thirdly, if you think he did this on his own and the CIA legal guy was just taking his memo "under advisement," I got a great bridge in Brooklyn for ya.

    Last but irrelevant to my point, as Andgarden says, impeachment is political, not legal, and he can be impeached for whatever the heck reason the pols feel like impeaching him for-- like consensual oral sex, frinstance.


    Wow (none / 0) (#103)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 07:27:16 AM EST
    Everyone here is so angry and so sure this is going to happen.  

    Yes, impeachment is political - I learned that in middle school many years ago. It's extremely hard to impeach and convict a federal judge - which is why it's only been done 7 times in our history. And since the people who would do the impeaching are also political people, and are looking down the road for when they are out of power, they absolutely won't do it now, based on the written legal opinion of Jay Bybee.  They don't want the Republicans looking into other judges' writings from years past. If an impeachment is to take place, they are going to need more.  For goodness' sake - they didn't impeach Bush, and they certainly had more evidence than a memo on him?

    I will not admit I'm "wrong" for saying he wrote the memo to his boss, because that's not what I said.  I said the Assistant Attorney General does not have the authority to tell the CIA to do anything - that order would come from the President alone, which is true (I accept your apology in advance). And we don't know (although we can suspect)at this moment if the memo was written before or after all this nonsense started.

    I feel like I'm being attacked for just stating the obvious.  I didn't say he shouldn't be impeached - I'm just saying, this isn't enough.


    Must be a different jbindc (none / 0) (#105)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:43:30 AM EST
    who wrote "But so far all you've got is he wrote a memo offering a legal opinion for his bosses" in the post I was responding to.

    If there's some doppelganger hanging out here who's writing stuff in your name, better tell the site owner and get it straightened out quick because he/she is making you look pretty dim.

    You're being "attacked," to the extent that you are, which isn't much, for misstating facts in support of your argument.

    I'm personally not particularly interested in impeaching the guy, I'd like to see him prosecuted, but I see little likelihood of that.  And so yet another false statement of fact from you, "Everyone here is so angry and so sure this is going to happen."

    Or maybe that other jbindc got into your comment above and altered it?


    A good idea in theory... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:59:31 PM EST
    but in all likelyhood we'll end up with a Warren Commission...aka a big ol' waste o' time and money with lots of photo-ops for congress-critters to wax poetic on how horrible torture is, with a wink and a nod to the CIA to keep on keepin' on.

    There need to be indictments... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:09:15 PM EST
    ...trials, convictions, and punishment. The truth is widely known and too much accepted as 'just the way things are now.' Reconciliation does nothing.

    Extreme partisan (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:44:36 PM EST
    ship and debilitating divisions? What planet is that from? We ARE divided. The last Pew poll showed the country more divided than ever. What these people don't realize is that you can not worry about hurting the feelings of the GOP. The GOP must be defeated. It's as simple as that.

    I think you misunderstand me (none / 0) (#33)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:53:46 PM EST
    if that was including me.  I could care less how republicans feel.  in fact I think republicans would feel great if Obama tried what many in this thread seem to be suggesting.
    they would instantly achieve governmental paralysis.
    what I care about, and what I dearly hope Obama and his administration care about, is saving our country from the utterly disastrous freaking abyss that we are peering into.

    No (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:54:54 PM EST
    it wasn't directed at you. It was directed at the portion of Leahy's statement talking about Obama and the pp nonsense.

    Well (none / 0) (#36)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:56:44 PM EST
    considering that Obama is having Republicans write his economic plan, I don't think that he's really all that concerned about the economy. And Dems have enough votes to pass anything without one vote from the GOP. The whole we have to have Republican votes comes from the fact that they have NO confidence in what they are doing and want to avoid responsiblity imo.

    they do not have the votes (none / 0) (#39)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:00:26 PM EST
    to pass anything they want.  not until they have 60 reliable votes.  we are not there.

    How (5.00 / 4) (#69)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:37:02 PM EST
    many bills actually require 60 votes? All you need is 50 with Biden to break a tie. There's no excuse and the public isn't going to want to hear we didn't have 60 votes when you only need 50 for most things.

    "only need 50 for most things" (none / 0) (#106)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 01:16:31 PM EST
    I suppose you only need 50 for most things.  its only the really important things, the ones I actually care about, that will most likely require 60 votes.
    and the fact is, the republicans decide what requires 60 votes.

    and whipping up public sentiment by saying all the administration cares about is investigating and not taking care of the many many many problems we are facing would give them the perfect excuse to say EVERYTHING will require 60 votes.

    which is the point I have been trying to make.


    Shades of Nixon and Nuremburg rolled into one (5.00 / 6) (#40)
    by Bluerall on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:00:41 PM EST
    You cannot move forward without dealing with the past.
    Ford's pardoning of Nixon and allowing the administration to get out scott free enabled many of Nixon's staff to reprise their role in Bush's administration.
    Rumsfeild Cheney and Powell just to name the top 3 remembered names.
    Crimes committed in Nixon's administration were again committed in Bush's.
    So it should come as no surprise that more heinous crimes were than authorized using secret memos.
    Crimes that the US and other nations prosecuted at Nuremburg so many years ago, and continue to prosecute in cases that happened all over the world like Serbia.
    Excuses for not prosecuting are some of the excuses offered up at those trials, they didn't fly then and they don't fly now.
    Doomed to repeat the US is if it fails to learn from the mistakes of the past.

    I think you need a refresher (none / 0) (#76)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:10:32 PM EST
    course in Nixon history.  Rumsfeld, Cheney and Powell were not even tangentially involved in the Nixon administration's crimes.  Rumsfeld was in charge of some economic something-or-other, Cheney was a personal assistant to Rumsfeld for a few months before leaving, and Powell was in Vietnam serving his second tour of duty over there.

    Take your own advice and really read up on (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Bluerall on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:25:28 PM EST
    These men and the roles they have played in The Republican White Houses over the years
    Including Nixon and Ford's administrations
    This little blurb
    sets the foundation for memos and the justice dept

    Cheney's political career began in 1969, as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger during the Richard Nixon Administration. He then joined the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, who was then Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity from 1969-70.[12] He held several positions in the years that followed: White House Staff Assistant in 1971, Assistant Director of the Cost of Living Council from 1971-73, and Deputy Assistant to the president from 1974-1975. It was in this position that Cheney suggested in a memo to Rumsfeld that the Ford White House should use the Justice Department in a variety of legally questionable ways to exact retribution for an article published by The New York Times investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

    Do some research and it all goes back to Nixon


    What ever happens. (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:28:11 PM EST
    let it happen before the 7 year statute of limitation.  

    Really?? 7 years?? (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:46:44 PM EST
    Thought we were still prosecuting Nazi's when we find them...I know we certainly were well beyond 7 years post WWII.

    The known truth already (5.00 / 6) (#59)
    by pluege on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:00:18 PM EST
    REQUIRES prosecution. Anymore truth about bush regime criminality and, as Professor Turly says, they'll be the shortest trials in history sending the bush regime criminals directly to prison.

    This is the reason for the establishment's resistance to "truth commissions". Anything with the slightest veracity will make it impossible for them not to prosecute - it will get away from them. Failure to prosecute in light of the stark truth about bush regime criminality would lose all of what little remains of Americans' and the world's faith in America's notions of justice and the rule of law.

    Escalating Criminality (5.00 / 4) (#63)
    by pluege on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:10:16 PM EST
    Leahy doesn't quite hit the nail on the head when he says we must know the truth to prevent it from happening again. Taken in historical context, from Nixon's Watergate, to reagn/bush Iran Contra to bush the lessor's illegal wars, wiretapping, torture and executive privilege of endless illegality, the pattern of escalating republican Presidential criminality is undeniable.

    So its not that we must prevent a repeat of bush's criminality, its that the failure to prosecute has emboldened republicans over the years to ever greater criminality and totalitarianism.

    Failure to prosecute now and end the republican criminal escalation could very well be the last opportunity we have to stop it, i.e., the next republican presidential criminality could truly end American democracy for good.

    so why are we holding that german fella (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:04:17 PM EST
    seems to me he was followin orders as well

    Dem-yawn-yuk? (none / 0) (#102)
    by Fabian on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 07:21:54 AM EST
    (I can remember how to pronounce it, but not how to spell it.)

    Yes.  Excellent question. Perhaps if he had worked for the CIA....?


    If not this, then what (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:40:50 PM EST
    deserves action?

    If not now, when?

    And if not by a Dem administration, by whom?

    I thought Glenn Greenwald's comments (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:50:31 PM EST
    on this to be right on point:

    Needless to say, I vehemently disagree with anyone -- including Obama -- who believes that prosecutions are unwarranted.  These memos describe grotesque war crimes -- legalized by classic banality-of-evil criminals and ordered by pure criminals -- that must be prosecuted if the rule of law is to have any meaning.  But the decision of whether to prosecute is not Obama's to make; ultimately, it is Holder's and/or a Special Prosectuor's.  More importantly, Obama can only do so much by himself.  The Obama administration should, on its own, initiate criminal proceedings, but the citizenry also has responsibilities here.  These acts were carried out by our Government, and if we are really as repulsed by them as we claim, then the burden is on us to demand that something be done.  

    More than 250,000 Americans attended protests yesterday (ostensibly) over taxes and budget issues.  If these torture revelations are met with nothing but apathy, then it will certainly be reasonable to blame Holder and Obama if they fail to act, but the responsibility will also lie with a citizenry that responded with indifference.

    Judging by some of the comments here, what was revealed today warrants not much more than a "ho-hum" lest we be "distracted" from more pressing issues, especially since "most Americans" don't really care that our government paid lawyers to write memos to authorize other government employees to carry out things-that-aren't-torture-because-it's-not-really-that-bad, in our names.

    There is as much shame in what was done as there is in nothing being done about it.


    Pretty much (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:27:07 PM EST
    agree with Glenn's statement but Obama has to lead on this issue and I guess he's not going to.

    I Wonder (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:25:59 PM EST
    whether they had a discussion like this after WWII? Do you think they debated over whether to have a Nuremburg Commission or Nuremburg Trials? Just wondering.

    Yes. (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:37:04 PM EST
    But they went ahead.  And they made history.

    What will be the message of the movie about this day, this decision, in the life of our country?

    Obama is making history on this, too.  But it won't make for a great movie about humanity, not just this country, making a step forward.  


    The average American doesn't know (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:43:07 PM EST
    what has to happen to deal with this.  They need an easy mechanism to form and communicate what most people want - prosecution of government officials who break the law and abuse our trust and our good name.  It's not like Joe Public can call the cops because his neighbor is selling Meth.  This is the kind of high level problem that we need our leaders to deal with properly.  Obama should step up to the plate on this, not sweep it under the rug.  If he doesn't, we need to engage the populace to demand it.  How about some websites to blast emails to Congress from all over the country with a simple, not-vindictive message?  
    In our lifetimes we've seen too many high level elected officials let off the hook even though it's clear what they did was illegal.  Remember the pain and frustration of Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974?  How did that make you feel?  Powerless?  I felt frustrated that there was no recourse and no obvious way to force our government to do what was right.  How about the Iran-Contra scandal.  I think when people found out that the Reagan team conspired to negotiate a deal with Iran's Khomeini to derail Carter's lead in the presidential race, using our tax money to give them military weapons in return, a lot of us gave up Hope on ever having an ethical federal government.  Oliver North being held up as a hero and making huge sums speaking at Universities was the icing on the cake for them, and the reason many liberals gave up on politics for years.
    Hope is why we elected Obama.  Letting the super rich take advantage of us and letting Republicans proactively and deliberately break the law destroys Hope.  These are the two most important areas we need to hold Congress and Obama's feet to the fire.  If we don't, we don't have a chance it enacting progressive reform because our guy will be seen as just one more in a long line of cheaters.  
    Let's make a clear link between follow-up on torture prosecution and the people's trust in the government, which underlies the Hope we need Obama supporters to keep feeling.  I think Obama will do what's right if people demand it, and most people are willing to spend a few minutes telling Congress and the Prez to fix this so it can never happen again.

    Never again? (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by JamesTX on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:03:36 PM EST
    Sometimes the best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again. . .

    As Mark twain wrote, "History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes."

    It is a noble gesture to think we can prevent it from happening again, but we would have to do something very different this time from what we have done in the past. It has "happened again" every time authoritarians have gained the upper hand in American history. But somehow I think this time was different. It was more blatant. There were fewer rationalizations or attempts to cover up. It was more...shameless.

    The apathy and indifference that started with the TV generation finally reached its apex. There was a sort of strange resignation Americans displayed during this latest fiasco. This one was close. The wing tip of the great American experiment almost caught the ground, and it may yet. A lot very serious deep damage was done to the Constitution, and there is no public demand to repair it. It just waits silently for the next Bush or Cheney or Rove or Gingrich to fire it up.

    don't know.

    IMO (4.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:44:00 PM EST
    you are giving "most americans" way too much credit.
    IMO most americans believe the last thing they heard.

    IMO (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:50:31 PM EST
    "Most Americans" have not heard about these memos, will not hear about these memos, and if they do, will chalk it up to "the government is sleazy, what's new?" and will go on with their lives.

    The only ones who care about this, unfortunately, are political junkies.


    Most Americans will see torture by the (5.00 / 5) (#38)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:59:52 PM EST
    previous administration as a great big nothing that got exactly what it deserved if they are allowed to go forward.

    You don't put a stop to things that you turn a blind eye to.

    Most Americans will see this as serious and criminal if, and only if, those who were responsible are tried and punished. That's how we set precedent.

    You think most Americans believe that since Lindy England did her time, justice has been served?


    I think most americans (2.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:01:56 PM EST
    could not pick Lindy England out of a lineup.

    Oh, well - there you go. (5.00 / 4) (#43)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:19:41 PM EST
    Let's go with the "most Americans don't care" approach.

    You have not read the memos, have you?  

    The May 30, 2005, 40-page memo from Bradbury is even more sickening that I could have imagined, and I do not believe anyone who has read it could be as blase as you appear to be.

    I don't know which is more jarring: what they wrote and authorized and set in motion, or your belief that it really isn't important enough for us to pay any attention to.

    Yeah, let's all just "move on," and apply that same pointless-to-seek-justice philosophy to the economic crisis; that should work out real well for everyone.


    clearly (none / 0) (#44)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:20:59 PM EST
    you believe many incorrect things

    Most Americans... (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:16:19 PM EST
    ...can look up Lindy England, like I just did. They will be APPALLED to learn that she was convicted while CIA directors and agents have been declared immune from prosecution. That former lawyers who wrote these memos now get to pass judgment on the rest of us. Should Bush, Clinton, and others be prosecuted as well if their fingerprints are on this?

    Most Americans will say yes.


    I thought the argument... (5.00 / 3) (#47)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:25:22 PM EST
    ... was that prosecutions would stir up so much attention that it would be counterproductive to the Obama administration's agenda.

    "IMO what you describe is a republican wet dream.
    it would distract the country and the administration enough to achieve paralysis.  which is all they want."

    I assumed it was meant that then, with knowledge of how torture was carried out in our names, it would be a problem for Mr. Obama (which seems to be the calculation they've made as well).

    If Obama prosecutes, most Americans will know about these memos and they'll find them despicable.


    I will try this one more time before I go home (2.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:34:57 PM EST
    no, every man woman and child will not suddenly agree with you if Obama reads these memos in the town square.
    the voters, remember them, want to know about what is going to happen to their houses their jobs and their lives.
    "most americans" in this economic climate dont give a rats a$$ about this.
    if the administration is distracted by some major investigation of the Bush administration the rest of the progressive agenda will be on hold.
    nothing will happen.  probably even nothing will happen to the people you want to prosecute.  what WILL happen is the voters, remember them, will blame Obama and the democrats for the continued economic diarrhea and they will elect a republican congress in 2010 and put someone freakin nutcase like Palin in the white house in 2012.
    but none of that will matter because you had your catharsis, right?

    Still disagree (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:57:19 PM EST
    I said "most," not all. I was disagreeing with your opinion that America can no longer walk and prosecute criminals at the same time. You hold us all in too low regard, I think. Hold to your opinion if it pleases you, but don't think I don't understand it.

    It's hard to imagine the level of disdain you (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:33:07 PM EST
    the voters, remember them, want to know about what is going to happen to their houses their jobs and their lives.
    "most americans" in this economic climate dont give a rats a$$ about this.
    if the administration is distracted by some major investigation of the Bush administration the rest of the progressive agenda will be on hold.

    appear to have for your fellow Americans.

    People can actually have an impact on the correction process of the economic conditions. They cannot, however, control the US Military. That, they expect the Chief to do. And, they expect him to do it with the honor and integrity they state this country calls its foundation.

    When the dust settles on the economic conditions, Capt, the torture will still have gone unpunished, but not unnoticed. At that point, the people who you thought weren't paying attention will be asking why no one paid for those crimes.

    Obama has more than enough time to get all these things done...he gets briefed, and he chooses the recommended solution he sees as the best of them, or he sends them back to do more work and come back with a better solution. This continues until he is totally happy with the resolution.

    You're not the real Capt Howdy, are you?


    "You're not the real Capt Howdy" (none / 0) (#104)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:50:48 AM EST
    I am the dark side of Capt Howdy

    my point exactly (none / 0) (#34)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:54:36 PM EST
    Spot on. (none / 0) (#87)
    by vicndabx on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:22:41 PM EST
    Immunize the little fish... (none / 0) (#14)
    by mike in dc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 04:11:09 PM EST
    ...such as the guys who were ordered to commit the torture, the guys who assisted in drafting the legal memos, and the aides who were present when the idea was discussed with and approved by the POTUS,VP, SecDef, CIA Director, and National Security Advisor.  
    Then compile and release the report with recommended policy changes and a demand for a special prosecutor.  Everybody except the top two suspects gets hit up in the first wave of indictments, and they get hit up after 2012.  Obama can grant clemency and commute their sentences to a year and a day...provide they drop their appeals and cop to the wrongdoing.

    This is still probably a delusional fantasy on my part...unless and until the DOJ agrees to the appointment of a special prosecutor.

    Broken record time. (none / 0) (#50)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:29:23 PM EST
    If Obama can get UHC passed, then it really doesn't matter who gets prosecuted or let off. The conservatives will be defeated forever.

    UHC would be repealed... (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:36:17 PM EST
    ...by the torturers he fails to convict.

    It couldn't be. (none / 0) (#67)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:34:59 PM EST
    That's the whole freaking point.  It's teh terminus of conservative policy.

    He doesn't want to get UHC passed (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 05:49:28 PM EST
    He wants UHI.

    He won't even get that. (none / 0) (#68)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:36:12 PM EST
    Not with his strategy. So it's largely immaterial what happens to the GOP for the next 4 to 8 years. They will be alive and kicking as an ideological force.  

    You mean like Social Security is (none / 0) (#81)
    by pluege on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:40:33 PM EST
    untouchable? Oh wait.

    This tortue stuff can get anyone mad (none / 0) (#66)
    by joze46 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:18:54 PM EST
    "They were ordered to write these things",

    Yikes, for me, if this is the case there is a whole new field of thought and plenty of energy for individuals to break bad. Any body can understand the extreme hypocrisy with a huge; huge contradiction in morals, Junky Juris Prudence coupled with the banner of human rights waving high does not work at all with out prosecutions in this torture issue. It was illegal, a crime domestically and internationally.

    For me this issue of suppressing and essentially failing to address the torture actions for what they are is not good leadership for the efforts in America to move forward with human rights. This is going to point out to a much defined chapter in "Obama's Moment not America's" to write a page in history, or is America looking at a diminish promise in transparency. For me it is worse than a diminished transparency. This is the Audacity of no hope while moving forward with shame tattooed to our Constitution. And he is a Constitution scholar, that's real audacity to make that claim with out any action to avoid this shame.  

    Obama appears to just want to tear out a whole volume of crime and destruction that was America's responsibility in a time of a "criminal war and economic crimes too". Obama said we are judged by our actions, so MLK said for we should be judged by our character and not the color of our skin, it is pitiful and lame to avoid this torture issue with out a minimum of at least a Congressional Shame documented for historians to refer to and that the media or any organization can not manipulate to look good when it was not.

    That in it self might relieve the abuse of the American electorate endured and are enduring though this time where our shame will never be vindicated if we just say forget about it buddy and let the good boys just walk away smacking with whispers, holding back laughter, looking back with glances knowing full well what they did was wrong to an American electorate, profiteered  making money while torturing, causing grief, tragedy, and abuse with domestic and international hate, all this simmering to boil over eventually in the streets. Some one said Obama gives a good speech; I say he doesn't know what he is doing if he ignores this one.