I support the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing discussing of the widespread use of torture by the Bush Administration. In fact, I’d like to see that hearing expanded – into a real investigation.
It’s one thing to have senators make statements, and to have a few selected officials make their own statements. That’s a great show, and it can end up bringing out some new information, but it’s not a real investigation.
The Obama White House has made it clear that it will not conduct an investigation into the use of torture by our government over the last seven years. The Obama Administration has declared that top decision makers, the people who actually conducted torture, and the middlemen who passed along orders to torture will all be let off the hook. In fact, President Obama has led the way in trying to keep evidence of torture secret.
So, it’s up to Congress to do the job of investigating this conspiracy of high crimes – a coup against the Constitution itself. A hearing is a good start, but it is not in itself sufficient.
The crimes are so serious, and so widespread, that an independent investigator, with authority that cannot be thwarted by either the Justice Department or congressional leadership, is necessary. Given Barack Obama’s expanding defense of the use of torture, the scope of this investigation ought to target the Obama Administration as well as the Bush Administration. It is no longer reasonable to assume that torture by our government really ended when the Obama became President.
A good start to the investigation would be a subpoena for Dick Cheney and George W. Bush to testify under oath. A good second step would be for Barack Obama to do likewise.
Consider Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s statement to introduce yesterday’s hearing:
“Winston Churchill said, ‘In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.’ The truth of our country’s descent into torture is not precious, it is noxious. But it has also been attended by a bodyguard of lies. This hearing is designed to begin to expose some of those lies, to prepare us to struggle with that noxious truth, and to examine the battlements of legal authority upon which that truth and its bodyguard of lies was constructed. The lies are legion.”
Given President Obama’s decision to cover up evidence of torture, Senator Whitehouse’s warning now applies as much to President Obama as it applies to President Bush.