Looking Back in Order to Move Forward

Yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called for a truth commission to investigate controversial actions of the Bush administration, including the politically inspired firings of U.S. attorneys, the treatment and torture of terrorism suspects and the authorization of warrantless wiretapping. He said his proposal is meant to launch a fact-finding inquiry into key decisions of the Bush Administration. “Sometimes 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,” he said.

When asked about Senator Leahy’s announcement at his first evening press conference last night, President Obama said that he hadn’t yet seen the proposal. But he did reaffirm that his administration is determined to get it right, moving forward:

Obama: What I have said is that my administration is going to operate in a way that leaves no doubt that we do not torture, that we abide by the Geneva Conventions, and that we observe our traditions of rule of law and due process, as we are vigorously going after terrorists that can do us harm. And I don’t think those are contradictory; I think they are potentially complementary.

My view is also that nobody’s above the law and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen.

But that, generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards. I want to pull everybody together, including, by the way, the — all the members of the intelligence community who have done things the right way and have been working hard to protect America and I think sometimes are painted with a broad brush without adequate information.

So I will take a look at Sen. Leahy’s proposal, but my general orientation is to say let’s get it right moving forward.

An important part of moving forward will be the establishment of a truth commission; we hope President Obama will take the idea into serious consideration. Please join our Facebook group calling on the President to establish a truth commission here.

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Published on February 10, 2009

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