President Obama On Leahy's Truth Commission Proposal: I'm "Looking Forward" But "No One Is Above The Law"
As Cernig wrote about yesterday, Senator Leahy has come out and publicly called for a truth commission to investigate the potential crimes committed during the Bush years. At last night's press conference, HuffPo's Sam Stein (how cool is that?!) asked President Obama whether he had given Leahy's proposal any thought and whether he would rule out any future prosecutions of Bush administration officials.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President. Today, Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-Vermont] announced that he wants to set up a truth and reconciliation committee to investigate the misdeeds of the Bush administration. He said that, before you turn the page, you have to read the page first.
Do you agree with such a proposal? And are you willing to rule out right here and now any prosecution of Bush administration officials?
Obama: I haven't seen the proposals, so I don't want to express an opinion on something that I haven't seen.
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.
That's a pretty lukewarm response, sure -- and certainly not one that those of us interested in justice and upholding American values would like to hear -- but I found it pretty interesting that he wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.
There has been some vigorous debate across the blogosphere as to whether or not going after the Bushies is a good idea. I tend to agree with AL's thoughtful opinion and analysis. While they certainly deserve it, securing convictions would be extremely difficult and require a huge amount of political capital. Where do you stand? Should we focus on the problems of the here and now? Can we not move forward until we address those past sins? Is there a feasible third way? Share your thoughts below.