Clarifying Comment on Investigating Bush & Co.

Since Gary kind of surprised me with the topic, I think that last night I wasn’t clear about a key point.

I do not believe we should “investigate” Bush Administration officials. In America, the legal system is supposed to investigate crimes, not people. If you want an example of the abuses that occur when they focus on the latter, just look at the Clinton presidency. A probe of an old real estate deal morphed into a relentless assault on his personal life. Believe it or not, Ken Starr’s official reason for pursuing Clinton’s mistresses was that the President might have confided details about Whitewater during pillow talk! I kid you not. That was the fig leaf of a rationale for that inquisition. They were out to investigate a him, not an it.

So, yes, these things can get out of hand. But, it has to be done, anyway in this case, because the situation is so serious and sets such a dangerous precedent. There is a long, long list (here’s one from a reputable source) of suspected, very serious felonies and even war crimes committed by Bush officials at the highest levels. Torture and illegal detention on a massive scale. Illegal wiretapping of American citizens. Ginned up prosecutions of political opponents and politicized hiring’s and firing’s in the Justice Department. Obstruction of justice and destroying evidence. Perjury. Conspiracy.

Many of these offenses are not in dispute. Hell, they’ve bragged about them. Such behavior tears at the very fabric of democracy and democracy demands accountability. The rule of law is empty if the powerful are exempt because it’s politically inconvenient.

But, any firestorm can be minimized if the public perceives attempts to find out the truth as fair and focused on accountability rather than revenge. Later I’ll post about how these investigations could be handled in an impartial yet comprehensive and fair way.


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