more fun to watch than the soaps…

Posted on Friday 20 February 2009

The Case for a Truth Commission
By Patrick Leahy
Feb. 19, 2009

More than 30 years ago, a special Senate investigation peered into abuses that included spying on the American people by their own government. The findings by Senator Frank Church’s committee, drawn from testimony spanning 800 witnesses and thousands of pages of government documents, revealed how powerful government surveillance tools were misused against the American people…

The parallels with today are clear, and so are the lessons. Then, as in recent years, some were willing, in the name of security, to trade away the people’s rights as if they were written in sand, not stone. For much of this decade, we have read about and witnessed such abuses as the scandal at Abu Ghraib, the disclosure of torture memos and the revelations about the warrantless surveillance of Americans.

So what is to be done about the abuses of the Bush years? Some say do nothing, and a few Senators even tried to make Attorney General Eric Holder promise in his confirmation hearings to launch no prosecutions for Bush-era lawbreaking. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others say that even if it takes many years and divides the country and distracts from the urgent priority of fixing the economy, we must prosecute Bush Administration officials to lay down a marker…

There is another option, a middle ground whose overarching goal is to find the truth: we need to get to the bottom of what happened–and why–to make sure it never happens again.

One path to that goal is to appoint a truth-finding panel. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair-minded and without an ax to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments but to assemble the facts…

This is not a step to be taken lightly. We need to see whether there is interest for this in Congress and the new Administration. We need to work through concerns about classified information and claims of Executive privilege. Most of all, we need to see whether the American people are ready to take this path…

Two years ago, I described the scandals of the Bush-Cheney-Gonzales Justice Department as the worst since Watergate. They were. We are still digging out from the debris. We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong after a dangerous and disastrous diversion from American law and values. The American people have a right to know what their government has done in their names.
As I watched the nightly news, I got a headache. People howling about the Mortgage Plan Obama announced. No matter what he does, it’s framed as some kind of government give-away to deadbeats. The Stock Market caved because there was a rumor that the Banks would be nationalized over the weekend. The same people that lead us here seem determined to block our way out. Not that I particularly oppose nationalizing Banks, but it’s just not what the President has in mind. There’s a hysteria on the land, and I suppose it would be absurd to expect otherwise given the circumstances.

But what are the circumstances? We’ve been so overcome by the financial meltdown that none of us are thinking much about anything else. Do people even care about what happened to us. I think so. A lot of Americans supported the last Administration, at least for a time. In spite of the screams and noise from the Bushites, I think the regular American probably does want to know what happened, how the country was run. I sure do.

While we’re at it. How about a "financial truth commission?" The people on the left say Obama’s not doing enough. The people on the right are saying he’s doing too much. But almost all of the ranting is uninformed. The homeowners who are in Mortgage trouble are being called "deadbeats" by the Bushites, but they’re the same people Bush was in love with with his home ownership campaign. Deadbeats or success stories? Which is it?As I understand his program, he’s trying to find a way to get these homes paid off. All foreclosures do at this point is give weeds a place to grow.

My only objection to Leahy’s proposal is that we’re not yet ready to reflect on things. This is only one month into Obama’s term of office. We need to settle down and take a few deep breaths. Then, let’s have us a really big truth commission. We’ve got nothing much else to do, what with everyone being unemployed and all. It would be more fun to watch than the soaps…
    February 20, 2009 | 10:52 PM

    Of course, we always get the government we vote for, Well, no, that’s not true. But that’s the way its’ supposed to work.

    For the past 8 years, the Bush government really has not been worthy of the American people. Now I’m afraid the American people are not worthy of the Obama government, what with all this caterwauling and carping. He’s too good for us; we don’t deserve him.

    Fortunately, we’re stuck with him for 4 years. Maybe we’ll come to our senses.

    February 21, 2009 | 8:44 AM

    It’s a shame that the Republicans and others have been successful in marginalizing someone I consider a hero in our country for all the messes( there is a better word but I don’t want to be to graphic) he has been able to uncover, Michael Moore. His movies about the Auto makers and the CEOs, Bowling for Columbine, (guns and the industry in our country) Fahrenheit 9/11( Bush and 911 and the Iraq War), Sicko(health care industry) and now he is asking for whistleblowers in the financial world to come forward for a new documentary. Just the mention of his name brings disgust and ridicule but before people judge him I’d like to see people watch his documentaries and then decide what they think of him and his work.

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