The American People and Leading Democrats Agree on Investigations

How Long Can the Obama Administration Hold Out?

A true cause for hope! It seems that both the American people (6 out of 10 according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll) and the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill agree that an investigation/independent probe into the possible crimes carried out under the Bush administration is necessary. According to the USA Today/Gallup Poll, released on February 12, the American people favor either a criminal investigation or an independent probe into possible Bush administration crimes:

62% who favor some type of investigation into the possible use of torture when interrogating terrorism suspects, 63% who do so with respect to the possible use of telephone wiretaps without obtaining a warrant, and 71% who support investigating possible attempts to use the Justice Department for political purposes.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill the pressure continues to mount on the Obama administration to move away from the spineless notion of ‘looking forward and not backward’ and instead, move toward Obama’s repeated claim that “nobody’s above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrong doing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen.”

Importantly, the calls to investigate the Bush Administration are coming from the leadership of Obama’s very own party; starting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Nancy Pelosi has openly expressed support for House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers calls for continued committee investigation, a blue ribbon commission to fully investigate administration activities, and independent criminal probes into the Bush administration. After releasing a nearly 500-page report documenting numerous abuses and excesses of the Bush administration Conyers put it like this, “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.”

On January 21st—the first official working day of the Obama administration – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support funding and staff for additional investigations by the Senate Armed Services Committee; which released a scathing report back in December linking top Bush Administration officials, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, to the abuses committed by American troops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Abu Ghraib in Iraq; and other military detentions centers around the world. The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, who issued the report, reaffirmed Reid’s position by saying that there needs to be an “accounting of torture in this country.”

In addition to the over 60% of Americans, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Conyers, and Carl Levin, the Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy declared on Monday, February 9th, that he too was keen on investigating the Bush administration. Patrick Leahy explained that he wanted to find a ‘middle ground’ between leading Democrats, Republicans, and the Obama administration in order to ‘find the truth’. Leahy said, “We need to get to the bottom of what

happened—and why—so we make sure it never happens again.” He proposed a “Reconciliation and Truth Commission.” Just how effective such a commission would be in extrapolating the truth about what happened during the eight dark years of the Bush administration is up for debate. Another issue up for debate is whether or not a ‘Reconciliation and Truth Commission’ would have a long-term deterrence or accountability effect on future politicians who come to power in the executive branch.

History shows that the proposed ‘truth commission’ model has indeed failed to stop the very executive branch abuses that such a commission was established to prevent. As the debate rages on and pro-investigation positions continue to gain force in the halls of Congress and popularity in the streets; the decision of whether or not such an investigation comes into fruition and has any teeth to it, is ultimately up to President Obama. Will he proceed with moral courage and take the constitutional responsibility he was elected to uphold, or will he retreat into cowardly opportunism and hypocrisy, allowing the first opportunity in his self proclaimed ‘new era of responsibility’ to wither and dissipate in the winds of political convenience.

Andrew Thomaides is a freelance writer and activist. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Andrew, or visit Andrew's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Josie Michel-Brüning said on February 14th, 2009 at 11:20am #

    Dear Andrew, wouldn’t those really justified investigations of all the crimes the Bush administration had been involved in end up into a bottomless pit?
    What if he was just a puppet on the string?
    Unfortunately, I don’t remember any more who of your compatriots and when he said it: if you would honestly seek for justice, you would have to try all former U.S. presidents without exception, that means, he added, may be Jimmy Carter was such an exception, but he was not sure even in his case.
    More urgently needed would be, in my opinion, to apply justice according to your constitution to all those still suffering from unjustified incarceration because of fighting for civil rights and protecting their people against arbitrariness or terrorist acts according to the international law.
    I am thinking of Leonard Peltier being in prison since more than 30 years, Mumia Abu Jamal bing in the death row since more than 23 years and the Cuban Five imprisoned since September 12, 1998.
    Apart from that of course, most urgently needed to stop the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

  2. Max Shields said on February 14th, 2009 at 1:13pm #

    The time for a political impeachment and prosecution is past.

    This is now a legal case which can, as I understand it, be brought forth by any State Attorney General (there may be numerous other options).

    The system DIDN’T work. Get over it Andrew. The party is over and the unraveling is in process. The system DIDN’T work when it “impeached Clinton for lying about sex and not about invading a sovereign nation or Iraq genocide. It’s political and there’s nothing to get gotten out of a political process owned by corporate America.

    As far as Obama having a spine – he doesn’t. Don’t expect it. He’s liable to invade some country to prove he does – like his idol George Herbert Walker Bush did.

  3. MrCynic3 said on February 14th, 2009 at 1:58pm #

    The Domocrats and the Bush the administration were partners and buddy-buddy regardless of all the posturing , theatrics and hot air.
    The Obama aministratiion currently is following the same Bush’s policies with minor cosmetics and make-belief changes accompanied by a lot of phony oratory.
    So, forget about calling for impeachment or investigations. It is a
    waste of time and energy and it will lead to no where.

  4. John S. Hatch said on February 14th, 2009 at 2:03pm #

    I don’t see how America can ‘look forward’ by sweeping massive crime under the rug and pretending it never happened.

    However, I think part of the reluctance on the part of the Obama Administration resides in the knowledge that a serious investigation of the Bush years will yield the fact that 9/11 was an inside job, and that could have unforseen consequences.

  5. Garrett said on February 14th, 2009 at 3:52pm #

    The Obama Administration has already committed crimes, just as every administration has done. Going after the Bush Administration sends a dangerous signal; it would suggest that US-led criminal activity began and ended with the Bush/Cheney regime. Many Democrats may be surprised to learn that US imperialism did not begin with Bush/Chcney or with – believe it or not – Israel. What?!? There’s gambling in this shining city on a hill?!?

  6. Berniece Hollingsworth said on February 14th, 2009 at 4:22pm #

    People! I have waited for this to be said for8 years! Thank you Sen.
    Leahy at least for giving voice to this despicable episode. Believe me,
    there are MANY AMERICANS that share this opinion. I too,
    believe you must “read the page before you turn it!” Godspeed,
    Senator Leahy!

    Berniece Hollingsworth

  7. Bob said on February 15th, 2009 at 5:54am #

    Wouldn’t it be nice…

    Yeah, and I’d like to be told that my accent is “Southern Appalachian” and not “Hillbilly”, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for either to happen.

    If anything IS done you can bet that it will be long on process and short on any result, and a couple low-end doofus will be thrown to the wolves if anyone ever is.

    Truth is, our “pragmatic” overclass has got a taste for it now. From what I’ve seen and read, I have a feeling we’ve just seen the out of town try outs, and look for it at a police station near you sometime in the future.

  8. Brian said on February 15th, 2009 at 7:29am #

    Would one local district attorney please take on
    Vincent Bugliosi’s challenge and charge George W. Bush with murder?

    thank you

  9. Roger Brown said on February 18th, 2009 at 1:45am #

    The fact is that if a trial was begun, charging George W. Bush with crimes committed while he served as President, we can be sure it would accomplish two things:

    1. It would take forever to get it started, forever to gather witnesses and evidence, and forever for proceedings to begin. It would inevitably end up in the Supreme Court due to appeals and the vast implications for the country.

    2. It would distract the entire country from Obama’s actions in his first term and damage his momentum/chances at winning again in four years.

    Because of #2, Obama is unlikely to encourage such proceedings, as much as it may be the right and just thing to do.

  10. Stephen Hand said on February 18th, 2009 at 9:44am #

    The trouble is that both parties are evidently two sides of the same game, in economics, in foreign policy…two sides fighting for mere managment positions. Obama appears to be showing he is a complicitous pawn on the new great world Plantation. Gore Vidal has long said the President of the United States is simply—and no more than—the Talking Points man for the corporatocracy.

  11. Katie Thomas said on February 24th, 2009 at 9:26am #

    Great article!!!! I guess we’ll see what happens…