Investigating Bush: Leahy’s “Truth Commission” Sounds Great, but…

Momentum is building for the formation of a “Truth Commission,” charged with investigating the extra-constitutional behavior of the George W. Bush administration.  At issue for proponents of this measure are violations of Americans’ civil rights and the detention, treatment, and transfer of post 9-11 detainees by the U.S. under Bush’s leadership.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D. – VT) personally took his case for a “Truth Commission” to the Obama White House two weeks ago.  The administration indicated to Leahy that it would remain focused on the economy for the time being.  He then suggested that Congress should move forward without the Obama administration.  The Senator followed up on the matter, making his argument for this method of investigating the Bush administration in the current issue of Time:

We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair-minded and without an ax to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments but to assemble the facts. If needed, such a process could involve subpoena powers and even the authority to obtain immunity from prosecution in order to get to the whole truth.

Leahy acknowledged that a “Truth Commission” would likely cause controversy but that, “We need to get to the bottom of what went wrong after a dangerous and disastrous diversion from American law and values.”  However, his path of discovery comes with an important caveat:  granting immunity to Bush officials in order to assure cooperation with the commission. Immunity is offered as a “middle ground” approach by which progressives would have to forgo their fervent desire for prosecutions, and Bush supporters would need to consent to the commission in the first place.

Leahy’s middle path, ideally, would expedite the process of bringing the numerous complaints of unconstitutional behavior into the light of day, and there is at least one good reason for doing so.  History has shown that, should matters of presidential misbehavior go unexamined, Americans tend to forget about them.

In a recent article at The Huffington Post, Will Bunch, author of Tear Down This Mytha chronicle of the historical makeover of Ronald Reagan — noted the fickle nature of the American collective memory.  He imparts the Reagan era example of the Iran-Contra scandal:

Few imagined that the Iran-Contra scandal would fade from the American consciousness, but it did, to the extent that the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., gets away with no mention at all in any of its expansive exhibit spaces. The thing is, it was one easy step from the non-impeachment to the decision by Reagan’s successor George H.W. Bush, who had some links to the scandal as the Gipper’s vice president, to pardon some key figures like former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. By now, the modern template was beginning to take shape, that it was a bad idea to go after White House officials including the president on “policy matters,” even if a policy was in clear violation of the law — as would be the case with torture directives a generation down the road.

Bunch’s assessment is apt.  Would we have to endure the controversy of bringing Bush officials to justice if Congress and the Justice Department had done what it was supposed to in the 1980s?  I imagine not.  In fact, what is more likely is that the numerous offenses of George W. Bush wouldn’t have occurred in the first place.  To be sure, Reagan’s legacy certainly wouldn’t carry the connotation of reverence that it does today.

Tell me what you think.  Does Patrick Leahy’s plan appeal to you, or would you prefer to let it drift for the sake of not having the inevitable arguments that will arise over its inception?  For me, the prosecutorial immunity contained within Leahy’s “Truth Commission” proposal leaves a dreadful taste in my mouth, but having to bear witness to a Bush legacy makeover would make me physically ill.  At the very least, his pragmatic proposal could serve to crystallize Bush in our historical memory as a president who acted in violation his oath. Is that good enough?

Whatever your feelings on the matter, the “Truth Commission” that the Senator is suggesting is gathering momentum.  Just last week, The Constitution Project issued a plea for such an investigative body to president Obama.  Signatories of the statement(.pdf) are reputable and ideologically diverse.  Here’s an excerpt:

We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area.

It sounds great, in theory.  However, until more details are available I’ll have to remain on the fence. user:  jarnocan - by way of


Roy C.
Roy C8 years ago


Those dim enough to think Bush
kept us anything like "safe"
by playing the sheriff
of the United States--

(here's your sign) and Rush Limbo
will now hand out new mis-wordings
for mouths jaded with Bush's
terrorist warnings

like those recordings
of the omnipresent "communist plot"
RFK and MLK, agitators"
commies who deserve to be shot

those recordings need changing
every few years
unless you wake from your trance
and realize your fears

that a dictator or a mouthpiece
has risen to power
and the real rulers no longer hide
in their ivory towers

What if it happened
while you were in your trance
repeating the mantras
the Rushes advance

you wake to find
they have already scoured
the privacy of
your mind

with a three letter bureau
using high tech
only white house staff know of
Congress blessed with blank check

So much better and smoother
things will now be
with rule by the Bush Doctrine--
presidential decree

Torture will be our new policy
for staying free
of the nasties
threatening liberty's tree

No need for an army
Blackwater will do
We'll buy their patriotism
for a trillion or two

Time to awaken
it was only a dream
Still we can reverse course
paddle back up the stream

The people Lincoln said
could be fooled all the time
are still the minority
Lady Liberty's behind

It is unclear to me
why we call them the right
when they're so often wrong
calling dark - "bright," and day -

Clara Beeler
Clara Beeler8 years ago

Where was this birth certificate? The only one I even heard about was deemed a forgery, funny how that got sept under the rug.

Cindy M.
Cindy M8 years ago

Yeah, listening to the mindset of those fooled into believing "dubya" & his buds did right because "they kept us safe AFTER 9/11", while their ignoring almost 30 warnings urged by FBI agents for him to look at about this, and doing NOTHING to prevent the Twin Tower and Pentagon attacks, makes NO SENSE. Why should I get hung up on a birth cert. that, knowing from my own experiences and background in HR, if he weren't legit he couldn't have gotten even close to the position he's in now. If rush limbaugh seriously weren't just blabbing his fat-pill-popping-mouth with garbage to get people riled up, you should be aware of how easy it would be for him to prove his lies if they were actually true. Not only that, but if it weren't true, and Obama was bluffing his citizenship, it would also be very easy to fake the certificate in his position. Yes, it can be foolishly argued that he'd get impeached for it if caught, but so would he if he weren't a true American. And it could also be covered up so he'd be protected and untraced to the roots. In other words, if that were the case, and he's trying to "pull a fast one" on us, it could be faked without any consequences to him. I could go on and on about all the things you guys say that don't hold water, but how do you win an argument with someone so deluded they can't recognize anything unless it's what they want to believe?

I do honestly wish you well though!

Clara Beeler
Clara Beeler8 years ago

Before Leahy and the democrats start a "truth" commission, they need to make sure their business is on the up and up. It still hasn't been established that Obama is a natural born citizen, he can't/won't produce a valid birth certificate. This is one of the requirements to be president, in case anyone has forgotten. Since he got this far, who has been paid off not to rock the boat? If he isn't then all of the bills he sined and will sign should be null and void, which would be the best thing for this country - as a democracy. Then he and everyone who didn't do their job should be charged with treason. Leahy has been a politician as far back as I can remember, his history is not clean. He should take a look at himself and take care of his own business/party before he starts a witch hunt. These things can turn on you.

Carrie Watts
Carrie W8 years ago

Our Government have much bigger things to worry about than Bush Cheney Crimes. Why is Obama keeping some of the Bush Administration Policies if they were so cruel? They kept us safe post 9-11, when the terrorists strike again, we shall see how we all feel then.

Susan S.
Susan S9 years ago

Bravo, Charles (March 3, 2009 comment)! Again, we must turn all this negative energy into positive energy and address the much needed changes for our country to survive!

Dwight B.
Past Member 9 years ago


How could any one sane with any kind of sense deny that what has gone wrong in our government for years was just happenstance?

We are the first generation of mankind that does not live in a vacuum to be spoon fed lies by the televised news and in print too. Or by some witch doctor or voo doo high priest reading our fortunes and misfortunes in ways unknown to us ---- and only known by him or her. The facts are in ---- about most anything we want to know ----- but who fears to tread into the unknown? Do some of us live with blinders on in a cage filled with all kinds of moronic reasons for this and that and simply say OH WELL got mine I guess they should get theirs. Yet some of us are pushed to know the truth as JESUS said the truth would set us free. We must be students and be about finding the facts comprising the truth. For most of us should know now ---- all the mishmash of network news is sponsored by those many that want us ---- to keep our blinders on and each nuclear family in our own cages.

Now a fact that no one can deny is this. Those that build empires --- rob them blind---then go about killing them in time. Killing the masses that built the empire to rid the consciousness of how it was done from their posterity genetic memory. Maybe to wit that has been going on for years in our RICH and ABUNDANT AMERICA.

Some might question that but so what. How else can all these tragic things have happened? Not by coincidence.

Dwight B.
Past Member 9 years ago


The plans that was laid long ago was by a bunch of social inane morons who believe that a new age would come if they pushed it along where only two groups of folks would be around the world those called the Japanese man then the BIG FAT CAT BOSSES who owned it all.

Some might say ---- right now ---- that Baker has flipped his lid. But check it out that is the truth and the BUSH BUNCH was all a part of that opulent social elite mentally. So like in all matters of intellect the best teacher are hands on study. Study is not a Polaroid treatment in 60 seconds you cannot go from being less informed too much informed.

Now the problem that we have tried to rationalize in this good forum of opinion has been how deep should we dig to find all the facts that comprise the truth?

Now the last statement is this ------ HOW COULD OUR GOD IN HEAVEN BLESS US TO GET OUR NATION BACK IN LINE? ----- If we allow the felons and those who have committed crimes against mankind and human nature to have a foot in our nation any longer?

Can all remain in a state of stupor and maybe some stupid ---- or can we all 3 to 5 million of us who are not inane about political things and have still yet a conscience bind together to form or own lobby in Washington DC to be looking in all the time for our benefit not the FAT CATS.
That is coming soon—so join in now the GRASS ROOTS ACITONS need to form our own WE THE PEOPLES LOBBY
Contact fo

Dwight B.
Past Member 9 years ago


Dwight B.
Past Member 9 years ago


Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the President with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide "legal" rationales for the President to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of U.S. citizens; lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties. According to the reasoning in the memos, Congress has no role to check and balance the executive. That is the definition of a police state.