Archive for November 18th, 2008

Compromise we can believe in.

November 18, 2008

Lots of discussion these days of possible Bush pardons of any- and everyone in his administration who could face prosecution for crimes committed during the “War on Terror,” and of what President Obama will do regarding such investigations and/or prosecutions.  Some want congressional investigations.  Some want a special prosecutor.  Some want something like South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation commissions, which is an idea I’ve suggested before.  (I can’t remember where, but I think it was in a comment around here, somewhere.)  Some want an investigatory board.  Obama pretty clearly wants none of the above.

Personally, it’s been clear to me for quite a while that that was the case. Obama has been much too much of a conciliator to pursue such investigations. I think his approach is bad for the country in the long run, but in the short run, I can see his point.

What I would like to see, however, is an executive order that makes all of the memos, etc., public. He did run on transparency in government, after all.

ISTM that would also solve the current stalemate with congress over some of those papers (i.e., the ones they’ve subpoenaed but the Bush administration has refused to give them). They still want the papers, but Obama is worried that if they get them, congress will get bogged down in investigating the Bush era at the cost of moving legislation forward in the Obama era. Fair enough. Make a deal with them to make all the documents public, in exchange for congress not investigating.

Publish them all online.  Let the public — journalists, public interest groups, bloggers, dare I say historians, etc. — go through them and make it known what the Bush administration actually did and didn’t do. And if private-party suits or prosecutions can be brought as a result, let a thousand flowers bloom.

A not inconsiderable part of me thinks that’s better than all the other options, anyway.  Failing publication of the papers, though, I could still settle for a T&R approach.

I bet this is generating a lot of interesting discussions in law schools around the country.

Discipline and Punish 2

November 18, 2008

So the Senate Democratic caucus decided to to let Lieberman keep his big chairmanship (Homeland Security and Gov’t Affairs Committee), and all his little sub-committee chairmanships, but took one of his minor committee memberships away.  I have 3 possible reactions to this.

One: As noted before, whither discipline?

Two: As a punishment, this is worse than nothing.  If you’re going to punish somebody, punish them.  If you’re going to let them off, let them off.  Trying to look like you’re punishing them when it’s absolutely obvious to everyone that you’re not punishing them just makes you look like you got in a fight and started slapping like a girl (apologies to the girls here’bouts).

Three: I had a thought last night, while watching news reports of Obama’s meeting with McCain.  I wonder if that meeting and Obama’s absolution of Lieberman (which seems to be the key factor in the caucus’s girl-slap) are connected.  That is, I wonder if what we’re seeing is the president-elect cobbling together a filibuster-proof majority on certain key policies, and McCain and Lieberman came as a package deal.  They are famous chums, after all.

Just a thought.  But I wanted to write it down in case it turns out to be right and makes me look hella smart.