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January 27, 2009

Finding ‘truth’ about torture

In the history of bad ideas, columnist Eugene Robinson’s call for a “truth commission” has to be one of the worst (1/25, Opinion, “Light must be shined on truth about torture”).

The idea that any group picked by a Congress dominated by one party could derive the “truth” about anything is laughable and sets a frightening precedent. Americans know how elastic the truth is in Washington.

This is an attempt to persecute political rivals (unlike Mr. Robinson, not all those calling for such a commission are opposed to prosecuting people from the Bush administration). Now that they are in power, the Democrats want to convince the American public that most of the policies of the Bush years were morally wrong. This is classic banana republic: Take power and vilify and jail your predecessor so you can stay in power forever.

Many Americans supported Bush’s efforts to fight terrorism. Apparently in the new Democratic America, there is no room for that sort of wrong opinion, only the truth according a congressional commission.

President Obama should squelch this movement ASAP and address our pressing problems.

Americans are sick of having their interests take a backseat to the two political parties’ election ambitions.

Mark Davis
Liberty

Comments

Jim

Eng,

What I posted wasn't guesswork. There is basis in witness statements and statements from the attorneys themselves and their staff, as well as the public record. We won't know the full extent of what happened behind closed doors at the White House until we get testimony under oath from White House officials involved. If they're completely innocent, why not step up, take the oath and clear it all up?

Engineer

Jim
Perhaps I took exception when there was mo basis. You are not one given to unnecessary remarks.

Jim

Eng,

"The attorneys serve "at the pleasure" of the President and can be discharged at any time. "

This is totally true. The problem isn't the firings per se, but what appears to be involvement by purely political White House officials in telling the prosecutors to find something where there is nothing. If Bush had simply fired them without any of this other stuff going on, it wouldn't be a problem (at least not to me).


"If the case had really been that clear the Democratic Party controlled Congress would surely have done something about it by now."

You'd think so, but the White House's emails pertaining to this have strangely disappeared, and there was a consistent effort stymie and stonewall any attempt to look into it. The ability of the Democratic Congress to do something about it was very limited indeed.


"There really are some liberals who can't make a post without making a crack, aren't there?"

Honestly, I can't tell if you are asking me that seriously (to which I'd say that's true, but also of some conservatives on here), or if it's a shot at me. It's hard to read sarcasm sometimes on here, but if your "bow and shiver" remark is in response to something I wrote, I hope you know I was just trying to inform and not belittle you.

Engineer

Jim
I do bow and shiver in the presence of you so superior knowledge. There really are some liberals who can't make a post without making a crack, aren't there?

Engineer

Jim
The attorneys serve "at the pleasure" of the President and can be discharged at any time. You make a lot of assertions as if they were established facts. If the case had really been that clear the Democratic Party controlled Congress would surely have done something about it by now. Were I involved, remembering all that can be done by aggressive attorneys, I simply would either take the 5th or say "I don't remember" unless I had an absolutely clear memory of the matter and the surrounding events.

Jim

Eng,

Your comment about Rove shows that you don't know much about the attorney firings or why they happened.

The attorneys in question were all George W. Bush appointees, and almost all of them were fired in connection to claims of "vote fraud" in the 2004 election.

After that election, there were howls from Republicans about voter registration fraud. The thinking was that this would lead to widespread vote fraud (fraudulent votes being cast and influencing the outcome of elections). No matter how widespread voter registration fraud was and is, there's no evidence it leads to actual vote fraud. If Bugs Bunny gets registered to vote to make someone a quick buck, Bugs Bunny will not be showing up to vote on election day.

Anyway, Republicans were howling for investigations into voter and election fraud in swing states after the 2004 election. The White House, particularly the White House Political Office (Karl Rove's office) gave the attorneys the word to make this a top priority. They then launched investigations.

The problem came when they found no evidence of vote fraud. Most of the stories they'd been told to look into turned out not to be true. The few cases they did find were determined to be mistakes that were not malicious in their intent. Among all the states involved, there were only five prosecutable cases in the end.

This wasn't good enough for the White House, who quickly fired the attorneys who weren't "producing" anything they could use for political hay. The evidence suggests (and testimony from others as well) that Rove had a hand in making that determination. Since then, there has been no explosion of "vote fraud" cases in these states. Indeed, the new attorneys have wasted taxpayer dollars investigating but not coming up with anything new to prosecute.

The White House gave several different reasons for the firings, none of which seem to be consistent with what we know about these attorneys, what they were told, and their performance.

The problem with that is this appears to be entirely political. If Democrats were purging the country of all but the most politically obedient, I'd think you'd be speaking up about it.

This, coupled with the sudden "loss" of White House emails pertaining to the attorney firings and Rove's legal stonewalling to keep from being put under oath makes it appear like he has something to hide, does it not?

TinaMcG

"And if Rove testified and said "Yeah, I didn't like the cases those guys picked out to follow, so I recommended we get rid of them" just what charge could be brought against him? Just where do you want to go with his testimony? "

We're talking about getting to the truth, and Congress wants to know if the allegations are true that a US attorney in Texas was fired in order to create a vacancy that could be filled by a close friend of Karl Rove's. And what they are trying to get at is whether the US attorneys were illegaly fired for not bowing to political pressure to prosecute certain types of cases and not others. This is about the overreach of the Executive Branch into the functioning of the DOJ.

I have no idea what charges might be possible or who might be charged, but it would be nice for those 20 fired US attorneys, and the rest of us, to know what happened.

Engineer

Tina
Are you trying to tell me that my preferred spelling of "Demoncratic" is incorrect?

solomon

TMcG,

Please don't count on a reliable link from ButRug, I'd hate to see you waste your time.

TinaMcG

"Secondly, the Democrat controlled House spent the last two years of the Bush Administration "investigating" the President. Not one person was found to have committed criminal offenses."

No, that's wrong. And it's "Democratic", not Democrat.

Please list the investigations into the president by the Democratic congress, because apart from wanting some of his people to testify and being stonewalled by executive-privelege excuses, I'm not aware of any. And if you will remember, the first thing Pelosi said when she was elected Speaker was that impeachment was not an option.

Gonzales and Meirs are still not sure if they will have to testify in the US Attorney firings case. There is a hearing on their case in February, I think, to move that along...or not.

So let's have your list of all those investigations, preferably with reliable links.

Engineer

jack/Tina
And if Rove testified and said "Yeah, I didn't like the cases those guys picked out to follow, so I recommended we get rid of them" just what charge could be brought against him? Just where do you want to go with his testimony?

jack

Much as I would love to see Rove in the dock, it would tie up the nation politically for a long time. Sometimes the amount of harm to society from trying these creeps isn't worth the cost of doing it.

BudRog

Clinton was impeached on a vote by the House, he successfully defended himself in the Senate. The point is the rules of law were followed.

Secondly, the Democrat controlled House spent the last two years of the Bush Administration "investigating" the President. Not one person was found to have committed criminal offenses.

Any "witch hunting" conducted by this administration will be seen for exactly what it is, politics.

TinaMcG

I say we investigate any administration that is suspected of having used torture as an interrogation technique. As I said, thelaw is the law, no one is above it, and I supported Clinton's impeachment for just that reason. I know most Democrats thought it was a witch hunt, but Bill did bring it on himself.

But this isn't just about torture. You may have heard that Karl Rove was subpoenaed by the House this week, to further investigation ofthe firing of the 20 US attorneys. Incredibly, his lawyers forwarded the subpoena on to the White House for assistance in getting out of testifying.

Arminius

"Truth Commission" sounds like something straight out of the USSR or North Korea.

Would such a commission also investigate the use of torture during the Clinton administration, or would it be a partisan effort directed only at the Bush administration?

TinaMcG

Gene Robinson is right, and I've heard him discuss this topic many times on news analysis programs. While it is tempting to look forward and walk away from the past, it is also very important that we investigate allegations of criminal activity by any and all in the Bush administration. Ford pardoned Nixon, which I believe was not in our best interest. Clinton didn't get a pass, and for crimes far less serious than those alleged to have been committed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and possibly Bush. Still, when I became convinced that Clinton had lied to Congress, I fully supported the actions against him -- and I'm a Democrat.

The rule of law does not make exceptions for elected officials, even at a time when it's inconvenient or politically dangerous to hold them accountable.

solomon

Great argument for not pledging allegiance to either sack of nuts and fruits.

 
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