From Senator Leahy’s BushTruthCommission.com:
Support a Truth & Reconciliation Commission
32,823 signatures so far (2/24/09) … keep it going!
I have proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate
abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration — so they never happen again.
These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary
rendition, and executive override of laws.
Please sign this online petition, urging Congress to consider establishing
a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration’s
Watch my February 8 remarks at Georgetown University:
Full Petition Text:
I hereby join Senator Patrick Leahy’s call for the establishment of a truth
and reconciliation commission, to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration’s
constitutional abuses so we make sure they never happen again. These abuses
may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition,
and executive override of laws.
A truth and reconciliation commission should be tasked with seeking answers
so that we can develop a shared understanding of the failures of the recent
past. Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually
happened. The best way to move forward is getting to the truth and finding out
what happened — so we can make sure it does not happen again.
What’s At Stake?
Support a Truth & Reconciliation Commission
We have just emerged from a time when White House officials often acted as
if they were above the law. That was wrong and must be fully exposed so it never
That is why I proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to
investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration. These abuses may include
the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive
override of laws.
During the past several years, this country has been divided as deeply as it
has been at any time in our history since the Civil War. It has made our government
less productive and our society less civil. In this week when we begin commemorating
the Lincoln bicentennial, there is need, again, “to bind up the nation’s
wounds.” President Lincoln urged that course in his second inaugural address
some seven score and four years ago.
Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened.
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.
Please sign my online petition at http://www.BushTruthCommission.com — and
urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission
to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration’s abuses.
The Bush-Cheney Administration’s most blatant abuses included the use of torture,
excessive secrecy, warrantless wiretapping.
The Obama Administration has already made huge strides to restore the Constitution
and renew our commitment to international law after eight corrosive years. But
we must read the full page on this dark chapter in American history before we
can turn it for good, which is why I feel so strongly about investigating what
I hope you agree.
Source URL: http://www.bushtruthcommission.com/
Article by Rep. John Conyers at Huffingtonpost.com, January 31, 2009
The Obama era began in earnest last week, with bold action such as closing the Guantánamo Bay prison camp and promising to end torture. In its very first days, the new administration has begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding executive branch operations, and has made great strides forward on fundamental challenges such as energy and the environment, and above all the national economic crisis left in the wake of the Bush Presidency. While great challenges and much hard work remain, the way forward is bright and clear.
As we proceed, however, the question remains how best to respond to the severe challenge posed to our constitutional structure, and to our national honor, by the Bush administration’s actions, and in particular its national security programs. Faced with a record of widespread warrantless surveillance inside the United States, brutal interrogation policies condemned by the administration’s own head of the Guantánamo Bay military commissions as torture, and flawed rendition practices that resulted in innocent men being abducted and handed to other countries to face barbaric abuse, what actions will we take to meet our commitment to the rule of law and reclaim our standing as a moral leader among nations?
I have previously explained my view that a full review of the record must be conducted by an experienced and independent prosecutor, and should focus on the senior policymakers and lawyers who ordered and approved these actions. Others, such as my fellow Michigander Senator Carl Levin, have suggested similar measures. This approach is compelled in my opinion by the basic notion that, if crimes were committed, those responsible should be held accountable – after all, is there any principle of American freedom more fundamental than the rule that no person is above the law? If this independent review concludes that the Bush Administration’s legal constructs make prosecution impossible for some, so be it, but the matter should be given a proper look before such judgments are made one way or the other.
Some commentators – including even those firmly opposed to criminal investigation – support the creation of an independent Commission with appropriate clearances and subpoena power to review the existing record, make policy recommendations, and publish an authoritative account of these events. I have introduced a bill in the House that would create such a commission, and I believe this sort of public accounting is critical as well.
There remain those, however, who would have us simply move on. Some fear the consequences of a true accounting, or worry that taking time to reckon with the sins of the past will hinder us in meeting the challenges of the future. Others argue that the facts are already known, and further review will accomplish little. Often, the call for further review of the Bush administration’s actions is dismissed as partisan payback, kicking an unpopular President when he’s down.
I could not disagree more with these views. As a practical matter, I do not believe that empowering a commission or an independent prosecutor would burden the Congress or the executive or would hinder our efforts to meet the challenges of the day. To the contrary, allowing outside review of these matters by qualified independent experts will free us and President Obama to focus our efforts where they are most needed – on solving the problems before us and improving the lives of the American people.
Nor do I agree that the relevant facts are already known. While disparate investigations by Committees of congress, private organizations, and the press have uncovered many important facts, no single investigation has had access to the full range of information regarding the Bush administration’s interrelated programs on surveillance, detention, interrogation, and rendition. The existence of a substantially developed factual record will simplify the work to come, but cannot replace it. Furthermore, much of this information, such as the Central Intelligence Agency’s 2004 Inspector General report on interrogation, remains highly classified and hidden from the American people. An independent review is needed to determine the maximum information that can be publicly released.
Finally, I wholeheartedly reject the notion that further review will cause our intelligence services to retreat into a dangerous “cycle of timidity.” A properly conducted investigation will help set appropriate boundaries for future behavior, consistent with our fundamental values and the command of our laws. Have we really become so fearful that expecting our government to use its power within the boundaries of law is deemed unreasonably “timid”?
This argument has another flaw. For all the worry of “cycles of timidity,” is there no countervailing concern for “cycles of aggression,” or “cycles of lawlessness”? In an era where detainees have been held in limbo for years based on flawed or non-existent evidence, where we have waterboarded prisoners, deprived them of sleep, and subjected them to unconscionable degradations and abuse, and where our most powerful technologies have been turned inward to spy on Americans and within the United States, without court order or warrant and in apparent violation of a clear federal statute, is our greatest fear really that our national security services may be unduly timid?
To me, the bottom line is this: If we move on now without fully documenting what occurred, without acknowledging the betrayal of our values, and without determining whether or not any laws have been broken, we cannot help but validate all that has gone on before. If we look at the Bush record and conclude that the book should simply be closed, we will be tacitly approving both the documented abuses and the additional misdeeds we will have chosen to leave uncovered.
That is why there is nothing partisan about the call for further review. In the end, these acts were not taken by George Bush, or by John Yoo, or even by Dick Cheney – they were taken by the United States of America. By all of us. There is no avoiding the responsibility we all bear for what has been done, and for what we choose to do next.
Our country has never been perfect. This would not be the first time we were forced to take a hard look at difficult choices made in times of peril. But when we have done so before, it has made us stronger, both by improving our policies and our practices and, more fundamentally, by strengthening our moral core and by breathing new life into the principles of our founding.
The responsible way forward requires us to look back as we go.
Conyers publishes massive report on ‘Imperial Presidency’
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday January 13, 2009
Report demands investigation of Bush administration’s abuses of power
Everyone wants to know: will Obama order investigations into the Bush administration’s
abuses of power? But, perhaps a better question would be: if he doesn’t, who
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), it appears, will at least
Conyers published a 487-page report (PDF link) Tuesday titled, “Reining
in the Imperial Presidency: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to the presidency
of George W. Bush.”
Conyers’ report makes 47 recommendations “designed to restore the traditional
checks and balances of our constitutional system,” reads the foreward.
Recommendations include the establishment of a ‘blue ribbon’ commission to fully
investigate the Bush administration, and the launch of criminal probes.
“Even after scores of hearings, investigations, and reports, we still
do not have answers to some of the most fundamental questions left in the wake
of Bush’s Imperial Presidency,” Conyers said in a release. “Investigations
are not a matter of payback or political revenge — it is our responsibility
to examine what has occurred and to set an appropriate baseline of conduct for
On Jan. 6, Conyers
introduced a bill that, if passed, would create the “Commission on
Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties,” which would seek to root
out President Bush’s abuses.
“The Bush Administration’s approach to power is, at its core, little
more than a restatement of Mr. Nixon’s famous rationalization of presidential
misdeeds: ‘When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal,'”
Conyers wrote in the report’s foreward.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan
Turley told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Monday, “We now have President
Bush speaking quite candidly that he was in the loop, we have Dick Cheney who
almost bragged about it. The question for Barack Obama is whether he wants to
own part of this by looking the other way.”