Leahy Truth Comission - A Sham - A TvNewsLIES.org Commentary

Great Video.

I agree with Jesse. Rather than having some powder puff Truth Commission, why not just do what the law dictates? Investigate, indict and prosecute.

In a word--pragmatism

IF we could get real prosecutions, that would be best. The chances of that, though, are remote, and even if there are any prosecutions they will almost certainly be focused on the torture issue and nothing more.

They will definitely not get anywhere near 9/11.

The Leahy commission has a much better chance of going more deeply into the torture issue and also of spreading beyond it. There is even a chance it would touch upon 9/11.

I watched a few minutes of this video, but that was all I could take. Ranting about not getting an ideal is juvenile. Using real opportunities that present themselves is the art of politics.

In case you missed it - Panetta: No one to be punished for interrogations: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5guiSGrGEQgeNObPcnAnM5T...

Holder and Obama have indicated similar positions. We already had prosecutions for Abu Ghraib torture and all that happened is a few lower-downs were convicted. Never even got near middle brass, let alone top brass, let alone the president.

JFK on secrecy and the press

Worse than juvenile

AlvinR writes: "Ranting about not getting an ideal is juvenile. "

IMO, if activists successfully sink Leahy's proposal, that will have wasted time and energy, to no good end (no matter how well-intentioned.)

There is one point, though, where I agree with Jesse Richard. I believe that when Leahy touts his proposal as a means to preventing a re-occurrence, it's mostly posturing. Politics attracts all sorts of creeps and crooks. Unless large numbers of the body politic do more than show up to vote (if that), in discharging their civic duties, a new generation of creeps and crooks will just pick up where the last group left off.

OTOH, if Americans saw how badly their government has fallen, there would be a motive to "throw the bums out" (eventually), and then sustain the level of participation and eternal vigilance required to prevent a re-occurrence.



You and Alvin R. keep repeating how much of a better chance we will have of getting at 9/11 truth by taking punishment off the table. As if those who are sitting on secrets will suddenly think to themselves, 'Well, so long as there's no fear of punishment, then I guess I can talk, say what I know about 9/11.' You never seem to consider how likely (or not) it would be for such individuals to think: 'Yes, I will help with the dismantling of an official story which continues to afford huge benefits to powerful interests in this country, even though such dismantling will consequently pose huge problems for that same ruling class.'

And others on this list, apparently, are supposed to accept that that is so--because it's, well...your opinion. And not sharing that opinion apparently might find one characterized as 'junvenile.'

'Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will.'
Enduring words from Frederick Douglass. Would he have been 'juvenile' for saying so?

Argument <> bullet-proof prediction of the future

Nobody is claiming omniscience. Also, you forgot to mention
1) that considerable penalty could ensue from not disclosing.
2) there is a track record for the South African truth and reconciliation commission (plus others since, but I don't know their level of success.)

Does is not seem strange to you that Jesse Richard would rant, with no reference to historical precedent(s)?


Everyone knew the truth about South Africa

Apartheid and its brutality were not a secret. It was state policy, openly proclaimed and implemented. 9/11 as a false flag operation is not an open policy. So I'm not sure the comparison holds. This is not to say that the prosecutions would be better, because the same problem of getting the government to acknowledge the secret policy remains.

'Everyone' knew the truth about torture by the US

Well, maybe not hardcore watchers of Fox news. :-)

Leahy is not targetting 911 (not that he'll admit to, anyway), and likely will avoid the subject. Nevertheless, as AlvinR has pointed out, there's a flexibility in a TRC that does not exist in a prosecution. Therefore, there's a possibility for digging out some 911 Truth facts that does not exist with prosecutions.

Even if you don't think 911 was anything other than what the US government tells you it is, and your only concern is making the US government less hospitable to torturers, it still makes no sense to prefer prosecutions that will never get the highest level players, to a TRC that could, instead, show light on who these people are, and exactly what they did.


Keith Olberman and Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley on TC.

Here is a video from February where Keith Olberman interviews Jonathan Turley about the Leahy Truth Commission idea. This constitutional scholar is for prosecution.


I am just trying to add to the discussion by supporting my view.

I can do without the smart ass condescending tone.

Let me rephrase that

So? Who cares what Turley says?

It's just more idealism. We all know that ethically, legally, Constitutionally, historically, and politically the Bush-Cheney administration should be prosecuted for numerous crimes and treaty violations. There is no dispute about that.

The issue is will this happen as outlined by Turley and those who want prosecutions?

My point, along with others, is and has been that pushing for prosecutions is not likely to get much of a result. Those of us who hold this view have explained our reasons in a fair number of posts in this and other strings. We have also cited recent history (Abu Ghraib trials), and recent statements by relevant officials, including Obama, Holder, and Panetta, not to mention Pelosi, Specter and many others who oppose the truth commission for what seem to me to be obvious attempts to bury the issue.

Elsewhere you have mentioned that Panetta does not have jurisdiction. True, but he has power and plenty of it and his opinion, especially when taken along with similar statements made by Obama and Holder, should be evidence enough that real prosecutions are very unlikely with this administration.

Leahy did get an anthrax letter. Cheney did tell him to "fuck himself." Leahy is a former prosecutor and the commission he proposes is far more likely to get at the truth than prosecutions, for reasons given in this and other posts.

Turley says truth commissions are for third world countries with nascent legal systems. We are a first world country with a sclerotic legal system.

To recap: 1) Leahy has not ruled out prosecutions; a truth commission will likely reach higher than DoJ "investigations" into torture. 2) A truth commission would punish people for not telling the truth; this will get lower-downs to talk, providing better info about higher-ups; truth testimonies might even alarm and shame the nation into going for real prosecutions. 3) A truth commission may very well touch on other subjects, such as yellowcake, Sibel Edmonds, domestic spying, Able Danger, and even 9/11.

Turley closes by saying that American politicians have to decide on this issue between furthering their careers or being real statesmen. I agree with him on this point and with great confidence believe I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vast majority of them will choose their careers. And THAT is the core reason a truth commission is our best option. Those scrimy little worms will have less chance of controlling what is said and what is made public.


JFK on secrecy and the press

Thank you for that clarification.

We both want to get the truth exposed.

I interpreted Panetta's statement as one to ingratiate himself with his subordinates. He was saying that the individual CIA officers who administered torture would not be pursued. He said this to appease their concerns, even though he doesn't have the official authority to make that call.

We know from the past that "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense.

Holder has said that waterboarding is torture, something Mukasey would not say, nor would Gonzales.

Obama has said he wants to look forward, but he also said that "no one is above the law."

I agree that the politicians are generally self-serving.

I knew nothing substantial would happen as long as Bush/Cheney was in power.

We haven't heard the definitive roadblock statements from Obama and Holder yet.

If truth and reconciliation is all we can get, then I would take it. But I think pursuing investigation and prosecution hasn't been tested sufficiently since Bush left office.

Turley's perspective is naive

He's dead on when he says "and the fact is that these members of Congress view this as a very inconvenient time to fight on principle."
He's also dead on when he says "We're in violation of our obligation now. We were supposed to investigate."

Now, here's where he starts confusing his idealization of how government should work with reality, on the very next sentences

"It's not up to President Obama. It's not up to Senator Leahy. "

He immediately then shifts back to a reality-based commentary:

"We're obligated to investigate. This whole discussion in front of the whole world, is basically saying that we are not going to comply with the promise we made not to ourselves, but to the world"

See how he basically avoids getting into the political ramifications of pushing, honestly, for what he suggests?

Earth to Turley:
1) It is indeed up to very real, flawed human beings, in positions of power - such as Obama and Leahy - whether or not US follows the rule of law and our treaty obligations.
2) The United States has a track record, and it's record in holding top level individuals accountable for war crimes, and supporting tyranny of all sorts, is miserable. I refer you to Noam Chomsky's writing for ubiquitous elaboration on this point. Turley seems blissfully unaware of this, and thus, whether consciously or not, is helping perpetuate a pseudo-reality, wherein the normative relationship of the US with foreign countries is considered to follow ideals.

This interview is an example of why it's a shame that Noam Chomsky so rarely gets interviewed by main stream media. That's not to say that he would not side with Turley on this particular issue, just that he wouldn't frame his position this way, which would help open up the airwaves for a more honest discussion about the reality of US being a so-called "nation of laws". We may be better than Bangla-Desh, but that's not saying much.

For those who want some humorous perspective on this subject, I refer you to Rodney Dangerfield's movie Back to School, wherein Dangerfield goes back to school at a very advanced age. In particular, see the section where he is taking a class on business. Start reading from "There are two kinds of people
in business today" here. You'll see that Turley is like Dangerfield's teacher, and metamars is like Dangerfield.

No wonder I don't get any respect. :-)

Note to Keith Olbermann (who I generally respect, BTW): Please invite Turley back on your show, and ask him if Madeline Albright is a war criminal. If he says "yes", then ask him what the odds are of a prosecution are? If he says "no", then throw him off your show.


Rodney Dangerfield to the rescue

Is it Panetta's decision to make?

Panetta's power as head of the CIA doesn't extend to making the call as to whether CIA employees committed crimes or not, or as to whether they will be punished if they committed crimes.

Also note that the Abu Ghraib prosecutions happened during the Bush reign.

why not just do what the law dictates?

Tell me how to get that to happen and I will get behind it 100%

Do you REALLY want to know?

To get the kind of ethical people into power in Washington D.C. that we need, I will posit that we need at least 14 years ( = 2 Senate election cycles plus 2 years). That's assuming that

1) there's effective political movements which are a) engaging in the political process and b) span the political spectrum.
2) the media habits of Americans get a good overhaul.
3) Americans get educated on the dark side of their history

I don't follow political activism closely enough to have a good idea of what the status is of 1), though my impression is that there is a solid progressive movement (see openleft.com, dailykos.com, pdamerica.org) but I'm not aware of anything so effective on the right or libertarian side. (Of course, the right has the advantage of rich donors, but their ability to bamboozle their non-wealthy rightward-leaning citizens has eroded, due to the rank incompetence and theft of last Bush Administration. I don't think any sort of positive, patriotic, ethical right political movement can really take off unless they divest themselves of the uber rich class serving mentality that sold out the country's interests, even if they did wrap it in a flag, a Bible, and memories of Ronald Reagan. )

On 2), the news is better. Americans are voting with their feet in terms of their faux "news" sources. However, if you want to accelerate the process, please take a look at therealnews.com, and see if you can help them in their next step of growth, by helping them move The Real News onto cable tv, etc.

3) is what the 911 Truth movement does, but I believe they are making a few fundamental mistakes. First, they are focusing too much on 911, instead of giving 911 context as one of many false flag operations. Thus, 911 DVD's should, IMO, start off with a brief survey of false flag ops. Secondly, they have assumed that 911 is a viable issue, politically. (One could reasonably hope for that a few years ago, but there's essentially been no support for that in Congress, any more than there's been any support for dismantling the American empire, cutting the military budget by 70%, etc.) Third, people don't know what to do with the information once they accept it. Does the 911 Truth Movement make any good suggestions (beside write your Congressman, etc., which will have a predictable form-letter response and change nothing), or do they point them towards the ideas I expressed in 1) and 2), above?

If you want a short term solution for a long term problem, you aren't going to get it from me.


Ooo, goody

Can you please expand, for us, on your list of desirable prosecutions? After all, when it's Christmas, who wants just 1 new toy?

Please tell us which of the following you believe are war ciminals, who should be prosecuted; those who are war criminals, but should not be prosecuted; and those who are innocent:

Nancy Pelosi
Harry Reid
Jimmy Carter
George H W Bush
Bill Clinton
George W Bush

Now, please tell us of how many of these folks who you consider war criminals, you also think that there is a snowball's chance in hell of actually being prosecuted.

Finally, please tell us how many current Congresspersons in the House and Senate openly support a reinvestigation of 911? I'm aware of exactly one - Dennis Kucinich - but I haven't really researched this. (OTOH, a perusal of the membership list of the newly formed Political Leaders for 911 Truth shows exactly zero current members of Congress.)

For anybody who is interested, some good commentary of how power works can be had from Noam Chomsky's Understanding Power. Warning: for anybody who insists that schoolboy civics text must be God's honest truth, you will not like Chomsky's book. I also recommend openleft.com, which has ubiquitous writings of really smart, politically active individuals, all of whom know perfectly well that Chomsky is right on this point.


Constitutional Scholar Jonathan Turley's View

I remember seeing this on Rawstory back in January. It is nationally recognized constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley on Keith Olberman speaking to the subject of prosecution of Bush et al.

The video is at the bottom of the page.



..........Great post

Fuck 'em.

I agree with this guy. We need to get tougher and demand more. Not be thankful they are doing anything at all. Hopefully more people will join us as jobs are lost and the economy struggles to rebound.


Raise hell.

Good video Jesse.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?

Stopping the Madness

Stopping the madness, ending the endless war, restoring the Constitution & the rule of law, ending absolute power for intelligence agencies to do whatever they want under the cover of national security, preventing WW3, exposing the truth of 9/11 & preventing the next one is what MUST be done. The proposed T&R commission has not yet occurred. Given all that has happened, the track record, it's VERY understandable to not expect much, or anything at all, from it. However, it is unwise to say something will never work before you try it. Where would we be if Bell, Edison, the Wright brothers, etc. had had that attitude?

The T&R commission in South Africa ended Apartheid. Things are still far from perfect in South Africa, but they are better than they were.

When SOoooo many are guilty, if not in the actual commission of the crime then in the active cover-up through lies and obfuscation, or passive complicity through silence, what hope is there of getting people (and I use that term loosely) to come forward if they face prosecution? People who will put everything on the line to serve the better good, for truth & justice, are rare. They almost never possess the bullshitting and ass kissing skills required to make it in modern politics. But, if you give them a chance to cover their ass, they'll jump on it like flies to shit. If they think that they're toast if they don't.

It's likely that the writing is on the wall by now for many. They know this is not going away, is only getting bigger, and they're scared shitless. Some folks in congress, the military, the intelligence agencies, the secret service, the FBI, etc. almost certainly want very urgently to do the right thing but have no means of doing so. If just one person comes forward with something substantial, and is given a voice in the commission, it will likely start the avalanche we so desperately need.

What have we got to lose? Is there any other "official" effort to get at the truth? What's the worst that could happen? They pull a white wash like the 9/11 Omission Commission, they stage a "limited hang out" and some major or minor good is done and the truly hideous skeletons remain safely locked in the closet, officially. Unofficially, they are already displayed for public view, but the madness continues because it's not official. In that worst case scenario, we'll just be right where we are now, trying to get the whole truth out. There will just be a few more heads to roll, Leahy's and those belonging to whoever else is involved in ANOTHER cover up.

I say, we got nothing to lose and we might as well give it a chance.

Vincit Omnia Veritas

Thanks Jesse

I agree with every word you said. The Bush administration, if you want to call it that, are all criminals. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Problem is they will get away with all they have done. In my opinion the entire government should be scraped and get a new one. They are all thugs. Once I was proud of this country. Not now. The whole thing makes me sick. Perhaps we can have a second revolution but a peaceful one. That is what I pray for.

Jesse Richard is probably

Jesse Richard is probably right on his assessment of the Leahy Truth Commission. It would have made a more powerful presentation had Jesse documented some of the claims he's made in this piece. The only part I have real trouble with, is the part at the end that I quote: "...and it's getting very close to the point when the people are going to have to take the law into their own hands if their government won't enforce the law."

That is an incendiary proposition worthy of deeper understanding. If I were a government agent, monitoring this blog, I would notate that comment as provocative. Do we want to get behind and lend our support to what appears to be, what? I need Jesse to explain that a lot more. But to me now it walks like a threat.

on that point, I agree with you.

I don't support that approach at all, but I understand his frustration.

The TRUTH is a commission unto itself

The TRUTH is a commission unto itself.
How could it possibly be otherwise?

Some thoughts

Here is my take. We (the truth movement) have a couple of options in this situation. We can support the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission or we can scrap that and go for prosecutions. There are two factors that I see that would greatly hinder the quest for prosecutions.

1) The strong possibility for self-incrimination by low-level members. Like people mentioned earlier, prosecutions (if they were obtained at all) would most likely result in the imprisonment of people who were of little consequence, "minions" if you will.

2) The vested interests of the people at the top of the chain of power. Many people here may realize this already, but 9/11 was only the tip of the iceberg. While 9/11 was a terrible crime (one of the worst ever committed), it is just one event in a long line of large scale, increasingly devastating, high-level criminal actions that continues to this day. The vast culpability of extremely powerful criminal elements makes the possibility of prosecutions rooting out those at the top almost nil. As an related example, here is a quote from former CIA director Bill Colby to then senator John DeCamp, explaining why he needed to quit investigating and write a book (resulting in "The Franklin Coverup"):

"What you have to understand, John, is that sometimes there are forces and events too big, too powerful, with so much at stake for other people or institutions, that you cannot do anything about them, no matter how evil or wrong they are and no matter how dedicated or sincere you are or how much evidence you have. This is simply one of the hard facts of life you have to face."

On the other hand, a truth and reconciliation commission (while, at this time, almost as unlikely to succeed) provides the slightest glimmer of hope for pulling back layers of secrecy that we currently can only imagine. That is because only the second problem remains from the two I listed above. With T&R, low-level people can no longer legally incriminate themselves. This is a major barrier to truth that would be instantaneously knocked down with the granting of immunity for testimony.

I think it is also important that we step back and look at the big picture. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, a global change of consciousness towards issues that affect human civilization as a whole. The 9/11 truth movement is one of the most tangible and viable catalysts for this shift because it has the ability to expose the corrupt power structures of the world. In one form or another, the movement will succeed, however not until people realize that their belief systems will be inexorably changed. The current ideas of justice and punishment, while valiant and well-meaning for our old paradigm, do not fit into our future global society. The continued belief in "eye for and eye" justice (no matter how heinous the crime) only serves to de-rail and delay one of the ultimate goals of the "truth movement": truth.

We must become a 100% peaceful, persistant, and indomitable global movement with the objectives of truth, full scale information dissemination, and positive change. When this happens we will prevail.

I will conclude with an analogy that I hesitate to bring up but I feel is relevant in this case. In the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker eventually comes to the realization that his continued quest for hateful vengeance can result in nothing other than defeat. His only option for success, while slim, is to risk his life by submitting his weapons and offering forgiveness. The 9/11 truth movement need not offer forgiveness to the criminal perpetrators, but will succeed only when we pull a "Skywalker" by laying down arms and coming to a higher state of realization.

Good luck on your journey.


sites of interest:
Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics
Deep Capture

Well-said. I agree.

We might also add two points: 1) Leahy has not ruled out prosecutions if the commission uncovers serious crimes and 2) the scope of a truth inquiry would almost certainly be much broader than prosecutions since it would include open-ended questions that could lead into interesting areas.

Straight-up prosecutions for torture are very unlikely to go anywhere. To back that up with facts, we have recent statements by Obama, Holder, Panetta, Pelosi, Specter, and many others. Additionally, we have the precedent of the Abu Ghraid torture prosecutions, which never went near anyone important.

Let's also remember that Watergate broke open and led to the downfall of Nixon because of a single open-ended questioned asked of John Dean. Someone, I forget who, simply asked, "Is there anything else we should know about," or words to that effect. Dean said, "yes, Nixon made tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office." The rest is history.

Another point is that even a really bad commission can have some good effects--it puts people on record, introduces evidences, defines issues, and so forth. As terrible as the 9/11 Commission was and as unscientific as the NIST reports have been, they have served as valuable and necessary foci in the quest for, if not truth itself, at least more of it.

JFK on secrecy and the press

good points kenyanrunner1. I

good points kenyanrunner1. I still think Jesse makes a strong case for the danger of the T&R commission slipping into a show trial with PR/Propagandistic agendas that serve to numb the global focus on our serious problems. To begin with a VAST string of civil suits aimed at low level players like EPA's Whitman and Guilliani and his twisted financial dealings that resulted in firefighter deaths at World Trade 1 & 2 is the way to go. Offering immunity in a T&R strategy has the potential to defuse the more important parts of the complex 9/11 plot by stagnating the process within the limits of design of the T&R commission.

will we ever get the carrot

I keep feeling that every time we get close to the carrot, they move it further away again but keep dangling in front of us.

Note to Jesse Richard

Jesse Richard says,

Nowhere in society, in the world would you find this approach to a criminal investigation. In essence, this is a criminal investigation. No where in the world would you accept the excuse that we're going to do an investigation, and if we come across crimes against the state, or crimes against your next door neighbor, we're not going to do anything about it. We're just going to learn so that we can prevent this.

I get the feeling that Richard may not even know about the South African truth and reconciliation committee. I can only understand his statement above in that light, unless you want to start splitting hairs about what exactly is meant by "We're just going to learn so that we can prevent this."

Such a degree of ignorance is not good for a guy that is involved with an organization called "tvnewslies".

Somewhat off topic, but Richard's imaginary comment reminds me of stuff I read just yesterday, while in a bookstore. There's a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Revised and Updated Edition . In the beginning of the book, he talks about how his students get some things completely wrong...

BTW, the early settlers in America smelled bad to the Indians. The Indians took baths, the settlers thought baths were bad for you. (I've read the same thing about Elizabethan England.) Squanto, I believe it was, tried to teach to settlers to bathe in the good, old-fashioned Indian way, but they had their limitations due to well-ingrained belief systems.


Well this is it. This is

Well this is it. This is the ultimate line in the sand. The "truth" commission is nothing but a ruse to protect those who are truly guilty. Leahy is in all likelihood doing their bidding on this one. The promise of prosecutions is totally bogus as well. It is just to entice and fool the left in thinking that actual justice may be done. This truth commission is a total farce and must be stopped by the citizenry at all costs. History and justice is at stake here. If they Leahy manages to pull off this truth commission he will have shielded those with total immunity henceforth. I do hope that the American citizens have the sense of outrage needed to stop Leahy and demand legitimate and legal prosecutions under full oath and totally transparent in the public eye. Nothing about 911 truth will come out in the truth commission. It is going to be a white wash entirely. I really do see this as a clear infringement and an insult to the American people. It is the political equivalent of pandering the populace with a baby soother so that they go gently back asleep so as to not wake up again crying and screaming for justice.


We should support Senator Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" despite its toothless appearance. I will respond to Jesse Richard's (TVNewsLies) accusation that such a commission would be a "sham."

I agree with Richard that it has all the potential of being a "white wash" and ineffectual, but we must pursue this and support it anyway.

1. This is the only game in town

2. It is politically acceptable to a majority

3. It will expose further the criminal nature of the state

4. It will meet with intense opposition from the perps, as it puts them on the defensive. They may commit perjury, obstruction of justice, or other new crimes which are indicted.

5. Those who refuse to testify would be open to prosecution

6. Exposed crimes will lead to evidence of other crimes

7. Exposed crimes will destroy the credibility of the perps

8. Exposing their crimes will turn the public and Congress further against them

9. As knowledge of crimes snowballs, a sea change may occur, as with Richard Nixon. Nixon was elected in one of the most sweeping majorities in history in 1972. Two years later he ran away from the white house to avoid impeachment.

10. Leahy himself may get on board more serious crimes like the anthrax attacks and 9/11. He was personally targeted for assassination by anthrax, and he knows full well that some lone-nut scientist with no motive was not behind it.

11. It is necessary to convince the apathetic public how egregious the situation is before anything substantial can be done. A result of this commission would be to educate the ignorant and apathetic about some truths they are blissfully unaware. As 9/11 was at its core a psy-op to manipulate the public toward aggressive war, such a truth commission could counter this previous programming.

12. Inspiring millions to complain to the Justice Department and demand "justice" is what is needed. This has not occurred on a massive scale (I couldn't even get my blog urging this posted as a sticky on the 911blogger homepage).

13. Simultaneous criminal prosecutions are not precluded, and they may force more disclosures and more testimony so that the full extent of the covert crimes is exposed. Rats turning on one another is exactly what is needed.

14. And most importantly: THE US CONGRESS CANNOT GRANT IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION IN INTERNATIONAL COURTS. Exposing evidence of Crimes Against the Peace and Crimes Against Humanity will aid international jurors in forming legal cases against the high criminals from the former US regime, as well as send a clear warning to the current US regime and future US regimes. This in and of itself is the most compelling reason to support the politically tenable investigations of the Bush regime, despite some token grants of immunity by the Senate.


Ray McGovern against Leahy TC

See 49:55 into http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&add... .

While I appreciate McGovern's ethics and activism, I still think he's wrong. He doesn't really go into his reasoning deeply, and says nothing about the political constraints or other counter-arguments presented in this thread. Finally, like Jesse Richard, he makes no mention about the best known precedent, that of the South Africa TRC.

In any event, his whole talk and q&a is worth listening to. He also mentioned something that I felt also, and that is disappointment in American churches in not speaking out. While it may not be a core competency of churches to know when governments are pathologically lying, one didn't get the idea that they even tried. Also, that excuse holds no water at all when undeniable evidence of sanctioned torture goes mainstream. Not very impressive, considering the peaceful yet courageous example of Jesus.


“Truth Commission” proposal on Bush crimes...


The controversy generated by Senator Patrick Leahy's effort to organize a "truth commission" to probe the illegal activities carried out by the Bush administration underscores the fragility of social relations in the US and the real threat of police-state dictatorship.

The Vermont Democrat, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, presided over a hearing March 4 in Washington at which a number of witnesses discussed the pros and cons of the truth commission proposal.

The Obama administration has signaled its hostility to the idea. At a February 9 press conference the new president commented, "Generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards." A senior Obama administration official told Newsweek's Michael Isikoff this week that the truth commission was "a distraction. ... At a time when we are trying to get health-care, energy and other proposals through—and you need bipartisan support—looking backward only generates more partisan opposition and noise."

The absence of enthusiasm among Democrats, the open hostility of Republicans and the media's lack of interest combined to give Wednesday's hearing something of a farcical character. According to the Washington Post, "About half of the audience seats in the committee room were full. The press tables: mostly empty.... Of the 19 members of the committee, only three, including Leahy, the chairman, bothered to question the witnesses." These were "solid signs," observed the Post, that "the Truth Commission was foundering on the shoals of indifference." ...


Pretty good overview, but limited in some ways

Most of what Walsh says in this piece is probably right, and surely no surprise to readers of blogger.

He makes one serious mistake by saying "The Leahy commission likewise would offer a blanket amnesty to Bush, Cheney and other figures who conspired to do away with the Constitution and set up a presidential dictatorship." Far as I know, that has not been the offer. What Leahy has proposed is immunity for some but not all. If conducted well, a TRC would get low-level people to talk and implicate higher-ups. Not likely, I agree, but not 100% impossible.

Possibly because of the misunderstanding in the statement quoted just above Walsh is a bit too pessimistic about the chances for a TRC. If I were betting on it, I would agree with him and put my money on nothing happening, but we are desperate so we use the opportunities presented.

Walsh seems to understand that going for prosecutions is a diversionary tactic being used to bury the issue.

On a meta-level, his conclusion is probably right: "The driving force of this process is the immense social divide in the US, the accelerating economic crisis and the precipitous decline in particular of American capitalism. The mounting social contradictions cannot be reconciled with Constitutional rights and democratic norms. Leahy's "truth commission" will do nothing to halt these explosive tendencies."

That statement belongs to the politics of prediction--either he is right or wrong, or his words motivate you or not, whatever.

A more important point, though, is what to do now?

I don't want to give up. I don't want to see the country go all the way down the tubes. And I don't want to see a revolution. So we use what we have. We all want mostly the same thing and have had a good discussion on this issue. I hope it does not divide us, as I am sure Pelosi, Specter and others hope it will.

JFK on secrecy and the press

If I was President at this exact moment in history...

I'm not sure that I would pursue prosecutions, either. Probably, I would not. Yes, even though my oath of office would require it. The reason is that collapse of eco-systems around the world is already happening, and we are looking at a huge die-off of humans which will swamp in size the victims of torture, or even the Iraqi and Afghani victims of the 911 wars. (Some estimates of which are well over a million or two deaths.)

A President of the US doesn't just lead the US. A President is also a world leader. I heard some really alarming stuff about permanent droughts worldwise, including here in the US, about a month ago. So bad, in fact, that the speaker was advising against moving to certain parts of the country. Just to remind everybody, but about a year ago Atlanta Georgia came within 7 days of running out of water. 7 days. And the real chaos hasn't begun. What about when not just Bangladesh, but lower Manhattan is below sea level? Heck, what about if you live in Jacksonville, you have no regular fresh water coming through your pipes, and the lower floor of your house is permanently under sea water? How do you get to the grocery store to buy bottled water? Row? I forgot the exact figure, but I believe that it's 50 miles of coastal land lost for every 1 foot rise in sea level.

Now, what I wouldn't do is let people off the hook without their roles even being known. In other words, a President Metamars (scary thought, I know :-) ) would insist on the public seeing how immoral their government is, but also then challenge them to do something about it by engaging in the political process extensively. And, in fact, I would tell them that ultimately, in a democracy (however imperfect), it is they who are responsible for the mess we are in, by sending the sorts of people to Congress that they've been sending. I'd also honestly explain my political constraints, instead of lying, which is what I expect Obama to do. (Though I welcome him to surprise me. I believe that his desire for change is sincere, I just have my doubts as to his judgement and backbone.)

As for those dirtbags in Congress who don't want either prosecutions or exposure via a TC, I'm sure the motivation of most of them isn't planetary survival or ecology. But I'm just pointing out that as President, you cannot just make a decision based upon a disconnected analysis of right and wrong. If Obama did the right thing wrt torture, destroying the Democratic Party's tenuous hold on power in the process, his political capital for pushing through legislation that could save the planet, and untold millions of lives, would evaporate. Whether you think that's a fair trade may depend upon whether you it's you or your family who ends up living with a water supply like that in Baghdad, or your house ends up permanently flooded by the encroaching ocean. Speaking for myself, even if I had a house 1000 feet above sea level and ample glacial water, I'd still feel too much concern for suffering millions now and more to come, to not look at the big picture.


You didn't quote the most revealing section of that article

which was this:

A criminal investigation is precisely what the Democrats do not want to pursue, and Specter and the Republicans know it. The Pennsylvania senator is calling Leahy's bluff, FULLY COGNIZANT THAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WILL NOT ALLOW SUCH INVESTIGATIONS OR INDICTMENTS.

(emphasis mine)

Which means that all the other contradictory spilled ink, such as the Pickering quote "we cannot simply turn the page. We must engage in a genuine effort to take stock of these policies and actions." is BS - not if the above quote is true. They're NOT going to do a (thorough) investigation, and they're NOT going to prosecute anybody of any significance. Nancy Pelosi will NOT be sent to jail, Obama will NOT commit political suicide, and Congress and Obama are NOT going to uphold their oaths of office. This ain't Christmas, folks, it's Washington, D.C. .

Another quote, from talkingpointsmemo:

Asked this weekend during a Vermont Public Radio interview if Bush administration officials would face war crimes, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy flatly said, "In the United States, no."

"These things are not going to happen," said Leahy, D-Vt.


Walsh not a clear thinker

I just reread Walsh's quote in my prior post, and realized that the second sentence is illogical. Leahy is not Obama, and in a sense Leahy is calling Obama and the cowardly Democrats in Congress's bluff. Leahy is one of the few guys that is actually willing to dig out the dirt, in a way that's politically possible. Nevertheless, the part of that sentence that I capitalized is completely consistent with what Leahy admitted on Vermont Public Radio.