Warehouse G

Accountability Needed

Obama Administration Must Not Ignore Bush-Cheney Criminal Acts

By James Donahue

The torture of war prisoners may be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to revelations of the blatant criminal activities carried on by the outgoing Bush Administration and all of the big business “fat-cats” who got their hands in the public till over the past eight years.

That advisors to President-Elect Barack Obama have already signaled that the incoming leadership will be too busy to waste time pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by high-level officials during the Bush years, suggests that a deal may have already been cut to allow the predators of the worst crimes in the nation’s history to get away with their crimes.

Obama was elected to office by a nation-wide swell of voters who believed in his promise to bring badly needed change in the direction America has been moving. We argue that there can be no change, no recovery of lost pride and no restructuring of stature among nations until we weed out the people responsible for these crimes and force retribution.

This will not be an easy job that can be accomplished overnight. We suggest that Obama appoint a special prosecutor and give him a staff of top-notch and impartial people to do this job. We believe President Bush and Vice-President Cheney were representing some very powerful people who used that administration to make themselves extremely rich while bankrupting the nation.

The investigation should include a detailed review of everything that happened during the Bush years, from the flawed 2000 election to the failure to keep tabs on the massive bailout awarded to banks and lending institutions under the guise of a looming global financial crisis. The list of suspicious events that occurred within that time period is so long and varied, and appears to involve so many people with ties to the Bush Family, it reminds us of Frank Norris’s novel, The Octopus, involving railway corruption and its effect on Midwest wheat growers at the turn of the century.

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley put it all in perspective during a conversation with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann during a Dec. 17 television broadcast.

You can’t talk about change without having some moral component to it,” he told Olbermann. “It’s not just about creating jobs or lowering the price of gasoline. What occurred in the last eight years was an assault on who we are. I think that President-elect Obama’s going to have to decide whether he wants power without principle or whether he wants to start with a true change, to say that n matter where an investigation will take us, if there are crimes to be found they will be prosecuted.

"It will ultimately depend on citizens, and whether they will remain silent in the face of a crime that's been committed in plain view," Turley said. "It is equally immoral to stand silent in the face of a war crime and do nothing, and that is what the citizens are doing. There's this gigantic yawn."

Obama is certainly feeling the tug and pull of opinions within his own party as inauguration day draws ever closer.

Robdert Litt, a former Clinton administration Justice Department prosecutor, said during a Brookings Institution discussion that it was his opinion that “it would not be beneficial to spend a lot of time hauling people up before Congress or before grand juries and going over what went on.

"To as great of an extent we can say, the last eight years are over, now we can move forward - that would be beneficial both to the country and the president, politically," Litt said.

Litt made this statement before Vice-President Dick Cheney made an appearance on an ABC News broadcast and brazenly announced that he approved the torture tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Mohamid who allegedly confessed to being the mastermind behind the 9-11 attack.

Turley said Cheney’s statement was no less than a public confession to a war crime, since the tactics he approved were prohibited by not only U.S. law, but by International law.

What happens if the next administration does not press this? Do we let the International Court at the Hague come in and take over all our responsibilities for policing our own act?” asked Olbermann.

The issue has not escaped the attention of all of our legislators. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who oversaw an 18-month long investigation into the Bush Administration’s torture policy at Abu Ghaib and Guantanamo Bay, told television host Rachel Maddow this week that he is hoping the new Justice Department operating under the Obama Administration will act on this matter.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, and Congressman Robert Wexler have co-sponsored a resolution opposing preemptive pardons by President Bush of his administration. This is an attempt to block Bush from covering up a free investigation of criminal acts during his tenure.

The Nadler/Wexler resolution also calls for an independent commission or select committee to investigate and prosecute illegal acts by senior officials and the Bush Administration.

Levin said he thought there was a need for the appointment of an independent commission to examine the role of the CIA in the treatment of U.S. detainees and other “major steps” by the Obama Administration. He said all of the facts need to be gathered and that they “may or may not lead to indictments or civil action.”

While he was speaking only about the possible crime of torturing prisoners, Levin was critical of the fact that Bush and Cheney seemed to be comfortable with ordering these techniques because they got Justice Department lawyers to write legal opinions that stated this.

You can’t suddenly change something that’s illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion saying its legal,” he said.