Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Bush II administration's time is finally ending, but...

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."--Abraham Lincoln

It's incumbent on all of us to demand a Truth Commission on every single crime committed by them from the 2000 elections until their final day in office. The involvement of the RNC and her operatives should also be thoroughly investigated. This Truth Commission should be hydra-headed because of the multifarious nature of the crimes due to their breadth and scope and the fact that they were ongoing.

Every single pertinent classified record of the Bush II years must be declassified and reviewed by a special non-partisan prosecution and investigation team and all records must be preserved. If key records are found to have been negligently destroyed or eliminated with a dark purpose, all federal laws applying punitive legal sanctions should be employed swiftly and aggressively.

Any loopholes found in procedural laws regarding the executive branch should be noted, legislative proposals made to seal them by the special prosecution, and Congress should act swiftly with enforceable legislation to heal the breach. The whole point of this is not to allow the policies that expanded executive power to stand, this being a system of precedents. Each expansion of power should be challenged at every turn.

It would behoove President-elect Barack Obama to renounce these policies in no uncertain terms and it should be part of his first 100 days in office, making the top of the list of Bush II executive orders that must be rolled back with his pen. This is where the wildcard factor comes into play with the new president: for a past constitutional law scholar he's shown peculiar voting behaviors, made especially obvious in his "yea" vote for retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies in the Bush II administration's warrantless surveillance program. This is just one of many troubling signs, but it begs-the-question of whether they were votes predicated on every occasion with a hint of a political calculus. He wanted to be president, after all.

But if ever there was a clear violation of the precepts of the Constitution of the United States, it was this NSA program whose entire scope we still don't know, but assuredly violated the Fourth amendment rights of tens of thousands of American citizens. What did the Bush II administration tell Obama and others in classified briefings about the program and the necessity for it? Did they lie to him and other members of Congress to intimidate them into an agreement to extend it and grant unprecedented legislative immunity? What is President-elect Obama's current knowledge of the program now that he's been given intelligence briefings?

With just 19 days left for the sordid Bush II administration, it's time to breathe a little easier. After taking those long, deep breaths, it's going to be time to roll-up our sleeves again and to begin demanding a Truth Commission. Democracy in North America depends on it. Our rights are non-negotiable and it's time to start acting like it for a chage.

President-elect Obama has said that Abraham Lincoln is his favorite American president, and as flawed as Lincoln was, I concur with him. He's always been my second favorite after FDR. But both men did things that caused significant damage to the rights of Americans at the same time they were adding to them. FDR and Lincoln began systematic extralegal surveillance through technological means of their perceived political enemies through the us of wiretaps.

So many presidents have engaged in this kind of behavior that it's a bipartisan tradition, and one that needed to die with the twentieth century, but has its convenient place when power feels threatened. It's the gun that all would-be presidents want to keep in the vest-pocket of the executive branch, as Noam Chomsky has pointed-out.

Time for some real gun control. The late President Lincoln's name is being bandied about a lot these days without much substance to it. We should change this, we should be sincere--we should say what we mean, and mean what we say. Without that, the future looks anything but bright.