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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lots of angst today about Obama's DOJ retaining Bush administration policy on state secrets and extraordinary rendition. (Via MeFi; here's a more Obama-friendly take on this than the ACLU's. Here's a rather less one.) I don't like this, and it's a clear early sign that even a government that runs on 100% Pure Love can't be trusted with the sort of extreme executive power that was gleefully handed over to Bush/Cheney by the GOP and the media powers-that-be.

Patrick Leahy's right: we need to set a precedent that abuse will not be tolerated.

We need to get to the bottom of what happened -- and why -- so we make sure it never happens again.

One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth commission. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts. If needed, such a process could involve subpoena powers, and even the authority to obtain immunity from prosecutions in order to get to the whole truth.
I've been in favor of (at least) the truth and reconciliation model for some time. There has to be an accounting. What happened has to be aired and expiated. Obama doesn't want to waste his political capital "looking backward" and I don't blame him—that's what Congress is for.