Friday, February 20, 2009

Probe the Bush Administration?

President Barack Obama, rightly, is reluctant to threaten the success of his agenda by supporting efforts to investigate the numerous allegations of illegal action by former President George W. Bush.

Republicans, of course, oppose the idea. Some Democrats, like the president, would rather take a positive outlook and avoid long, partisan-plagued battles in the halls of Congress or in the courts. Some would take a long step away from the confrontational tactics of President Bush and, earlier, of Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich toward a more nonpartisan era.

As leader of the Free World, President Obama is saddled with the responsibility of keeping the United States militarily strong and economically viable. It is not his role to take on the politically suicidal job of bringing former Bush Administration officials to justice for illegal activities.

Congress has both the power and authority to do just that -- and it should.

Those who want to see Congress investigate the Bush Administration are putting much of their hopes on Senate and House Judiciary committee chairmen Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.,
(image right) and John Conyers, D-Mich. (image left.)

Leahy and Conyers want the truth. It's their role, as Congressional leaders, to conduct investigations when things go wrong and to create legislation that will prevent such missteps in the future.

These are a few of the most pressing allegations against former President Bush that Congress would undoubtedly probe:
* Illegally invading the sovereign country of Iraq
* Obstructing justice in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson
* Illegal detention of American and foreign captives
* Secretly authorizing torture and rendition
* Announcing his intention to violate the law with Signing Statements
* Misleading Americans in attempting to destroy Medicare
* Spying on Americans without court orders
* Directing telecommunications companies to create illegal databases of private telephone numbers and emails.
* White House involvement in politically motivated hirings and firings in Bush's Justice Department.

Republicans already have made it clear they have no interest in bipartisanship. They have taken their role as the "loyal opposition" very seriously by attacking President Obama relentlessly on virtually every move he has taken during his first days and weeks in office.

The president's stimulus proposals have come under incessant attack, as has his appointments of Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's decision to abandon his nomination as Health and Human Services secretary.

"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 future administrations," Conyers said.

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