Preserving the Historical Record of the Bush-Cheney Administration

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on February 13th, 2009

For a nation to maintain its honor it must be true to its morality, its politics, and its history. Its morality requires taking responsibility for wrongdoing. Politics requires holding those culpable of wrongdoing accountable for their specific crimes. History requires preserving the record of the nation’s wrongdoing in order for future generationtmpphpreyq501.jpgs to avoid repeating them. Although the dark days of the Bush-Cheney regime are beyond us, its shadow persists. Indeed, it may not be possible to emerge from this shadow without responding as a nation to whatever crimes were committed on the Bush-Cheney watch. The Obama administration seems inclined to be “forward-looking,” which means unless irrefutable proof of illegality is established to focus on how the United States can return to its principles and values, for instance, by eliminating torture. Others want to subject the Bush-Cheney years to critical investigations and prosecute where warranted. The first approach virtually turns a blind eye to the atrocities of the past eight years. The second approach conceivably will consume the Obama administration with congressional and judicial inquiries deflecting the administration from attending to the other egregious problems–such as the Iraq War and an economy in free fall–bequeathed to the nation from arguably the most irresponsible and incompetent administration in the nation’s history.  Neither approach is very attractive.  Senator Leahy, (D-Vermont) has suggested a third possibility. To preserve the historical record without requiring the current administration to engage in complex prosecutions, Leahy has suggested the formation of a “truth commission,” which would offer immunity to anyone who truthfully testifies to the facts of the debacle in Iraq. Anyone accepting immunity that lies would be subject to prosecution for perjury. Whatever the drawbacks of this proposal it satisfies the most important overriding value, namely, it preserves the historical record on possible war crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney administration.  Without such a record, America’s honor is severely compromised.


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