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Will Obama Look Forward or Backward Regarding Bush Administration Prosecutions?

(via ThinkProgress) When the Obama Administration gets down to business later this month, it will have to decide whether or not to investigate numerous potentially illegal activities conducted by Bush Administration officials and if criminal prosecutions are warranted. It would be very interesting to get to the heart of the reason why the Bush Administration awarded no-bid contracts to corporations like Halliburton for Iraqi infrastructure reconstruction. The Bush Administration's policies on pre-emptive war, torture, and wire-tapping certainly danced on the fringes of legality, if not morality.

"We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth," Obama told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "And obviously we're going to look at past practices. And I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards." Obama added that he didn't want CIA agents, for example, feeling, "...like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up." Obama also told Stephanopoulos that his Attorney Genreal (Eric Holder, nominee) would be making some of the decision as to who and what to prosecute. Obama said that Attorney General Holder would be the people's lawyer and should act independently from Obama's daily political concerns.

Watch it:

Obama reiterated the idea that his Administration will concentrate on making changes going forward. This is well and good, if there are no investigations or prosecutions if/where appropriate, then the new administration would effectively be passively complicit in the commission of the alleged crimes. Part of me understands that on a certain political level, it would make sense in a unifying, reach-across-the-aisle kind of way to let bygones be bygones. On the other hand, I don't see what Obama would have to lose in investigating the most horrifically incompetent and radically unpopular Administration in modern history.

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Comments

I love John Cusak:

"The only relative argument that seems to make any sense is that President Obama may choose not to make the rule of law a top priority. This seems plausible and politically expedient, but dangerous and shortsighted -- the world will only fully understand that America is in the process of renewal if justice is served.

Our collective self-worth and character need to come first. What is the point of having our economic interests and security be so sacrosanct if our government (us) is really just worthless and soulless garbage who can commit felonies and war crimes with no accountability? We will never gather the collective strength to overcome our problems if we don't reclaim our basic, fundamental principals. It is the oxygen of tolerant and free people everywhere and we want it back... we need to breathe it again.

Otherwise the precedent for criminality will be clear for future criminals. Get a lawyer you appoint -- one without a soul or conscience -- to excuse whatever crime you are about to commit by writing a brief saying it's legal, do what you want, then refer to your lawyer's excuse as a get out of jail free card."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-cusack/two-questions_b_156845.html

Or as the jingle goes, "That's not change, that's more of the same."

Thanks, Dreamin'.

"Our collective self-worth and character need to come first."

- Maybe: 1) That's exactly what's happening, and 2) That's also the problem.

Particularly in the political realm, Americans are not usually prone to accepting responsibility. There are tons of problems, but they're always the other guy's faults. (While Congress enjoys an abysmal approval rating, many people think that THEIR representative Congress-critters are doing a fine job.) And while I'd love to see the Bush clowns hang, most people in this country don't want to admit that the government that they elected and, thus, is really a reflection of themselves, would ever actually be criminal or immoral.

"And while I'd love to see the Bush clowns hang, most people in this country don't want to admit that the government that they elected and, thus, is really a reflection of themselves, would ever actually be criminal or immoral."
Yes, it would be very painful, but I think ultimately healing and transformative. And the rest of the world would love you all the more for it.

Obama doesn't need to do shit; this is congress' ball now. Congress has the authority to investigate, subpoena and then refer to the Justice Dept. Let Henry Waxman do what he's been dying to do and let Obama remain above the fray. That's the practical and political answer.

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