Saturday, January 17, 2009

Investigation of Bush Lawlessness Needed

Paul Krugman of The New York Times advocates for investigation of multiple abuses in the Bush administration by the incoming Obama administration.

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.

Krugman goes on to point out that there were major scandals in six separate federal government agencies over the past eight years and most were not fully investigated. One of the more egregious was the politization of the Justice Department culminating in the firing of several U.S. Attorneys. Zachary Roth reports on Talking Points Memo that the House Judiciary Committee may be taking a more aggressive tack.

But yesterday, the House Judiciary committee got behind a very different approach, releasing a nearly 500-page report that recommends establishing a blue-ribbon commission -- along the lines of the 9/11 commission, but with subpoena power -- to investigate whether crimes were committed.

The report also advocates an investigation by the Justice Department, potentially involving a special prosecutor. And in addition to focusing on issues of torture, wiretapping, and the like, the report also recommends continuing to probe matters like the leaking of the name of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, and the US Attorney firings.

I agree with Krugman that to allow the illegal activities of the Bush administration to pass without throrough investigation and appropriate consequences is to tacitly condone them and undermine the rule of law.

--Ballard Burgher

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