Those calling for the prosecution of Bush administration officials have had their shorts in a bunch lately. The rhetoric coming from Obama and his transition team has given them no reason for comfort. Judging by George W. Bush’s Monday press conference performance he is either too worried about it or not at all, and likely the latter. However, there are plenty of reasons to expect to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. hauled before a court of some sort. We may just have to wait a bit longer.
Of course, pessimism is understandable. Consider the President Elect’s comments from last Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is that he’s the people’s lawyer. Eric Holder’s been nominated. His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people. Not be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So ultimately, he’s going to be making some calls. But my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.
There are two ways to look at this. Either, Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder, once confirmed, will sort it out, or Obama will go the Ford/Nixon route and issue preemptive pardons “for the good of the country.” Time columnist Joe Klein, in this week’s print issue, suggested that pardoning the Bush administration officials would be a “cagey” option for Obama:
… he could pardon Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for the possible commission of war crimes. Then they’d have to live with official acknowledgement of their ignominy in perpetuity.
Klein actually manages to make a pardon sound like a kick in the privates, but within the article he also suggests that he has no reason to believe that they will, or won’t, pursue war crimes charges while ensuring the same mistakes are not made going forward.
Holder is a different matter, altogether. During the prospective Attorney General’s confirmation hearings Thursday, he left little doubt how he felt about “enhanced interrogation tactics,” as well as those whom approved their use.
That sounds like a man who means business, but again, patience will be required. Eric Holder will have a monumental task before him in straightening out the Department of Justice after eight years of W.
I know. Having to be patient really sucks when you want something to happen, and I’m curious to know what you think. If you’ve read this far, you must have an opinion. Will Obama sic his new AG on the outgoing administration, or will he let it drift? The dilemma reminds me of a quote from Thomas Jefferson:
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to it’s true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war & long oppressions of enormous public debt… If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, & then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake.
—Philadelphia, June 4, 1798
Do not fret. It will happen. A little patience…