If there’s one area of the Obama presidency that’s been vexing to many of his strongest supporters, it’s been his reluctance to take a hard look at the past sins of his predecessor.
Specifically, questions about torture, illegal surveillance and the like have been given short shrift by this president.
The thinking of his inner circle seemed to be that dredging up the past serves no purpose, even if laws were broken. That rationale was bogus from the start.
Now it looks like things are changing, and light may finally be shed on alleged misdeeds of the Bush cabal. The president and his people, or at least most of them are starting to realize that some of the stuff Bush and his people allegedly did can’t be ignored. The “let’s move on” school has suffered a serious setback. With allegations that the CIA, at the behest of Dick Cheney, put together a counterterrorism program without letting Congress know, and that Attorney General Eric Holder may name a special criminal prosecutor to probe whether US interrogators tortured suspected terrorists, those who have been pressing the administration to get the facts have new and potent ammunition.
Even the naming of a prosecutor may not go far enough if all they’re looking at is some CIA grunt who may have gone too far. Who were the lawyers, who were the policymakers who either affirmed the use of torture or looked the other way when they knew it was happening? The narrow focus of a Justice Dept. probe may not get all the facts. And of course, there’s already pushback from Republicans with a raft of silly pronouncements about why there should be no investigation at all.
“What’s going to be the positive result”? asks John McCain. “This is a terrible trend”, argues Texas Senator John Cornyn. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama could only come up with Dick Cheney’s service to his country. All these arguments are so weak as to be laughable.
However, don’t think for a minute that some of these Republicans won’t try to hold Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court hostage to stop any serious attempt to hold anyone accountable.
Think it can’t happen? Think again. Washington ‘Beltway’ politics is a strange and often ugly thing to watch.
Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing starts Monday. Watch some of these same senators try to drag out that hearing while at the same time, on the down low, they try to horse trade with President Obama. This is where AG Holder comes in. There are reports that, even though he’s been a reluctant convert to the idea of looking at this stuff, he’s not really on board with the idea that the president’s political advisors were calling the shots against a serious investigation.
So, is it Eric Holder to the rescue,
or does the Obama Administration need to go even further in probing Bush era misdeeds?