Leave it to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — often dubbed the Cyber Senator for his embrace of web technology to reach out to constituents — to use the Internet as a way to champion a pet cause.
On Monday Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, floated the idea of creating a Truth Commission to investigate the constitutional digressions of the Bush Administration — from warrantless wiretapping to extraordinary rendition.
The idea received a cool reception from Pres. Barack Obama, who said during a primetime press conference that he's more interested in looking forward than looking back. But, if anyone is found to have violated the law, they would be prosecuted.
On Tuesday, Leahy talked directly to White House staff about the idea, according to the Huffington Post.
We'll see how that pans out.
Here are Sen. Leahy's comments:"We have just emerged from a time when White House officials often acted as if they were above the law. That was wrong and must be fully exposed so it never happens again.
That is why I proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.
During the past several years, this country has been divided as deeply as it has been at any time in our history since the Civil War. It has made our government less productive and our society less civil. In this week when we begin commemorating the Lincoln bicentennial, there is need, again, "to bind up the nation's wounds." President Lincoln urged that course in his second inaugural address some seven score and four years ago.
Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. The best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again."
The petition website has a short introduction from Sen. Leahy, as well as portions of his remarks outlining the commission idea. He delivered those remarks at Georgetown University on Monday, where he laid out the priorities of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the upcoming session of Congress.
Here is the full text of the petition:I hereby join Senator Patrick Leahy's call for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration's constitutional abuses so we make sure they never happen again. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.
A truth and reconciliation commission should be tasked with seeking answers so that we can develop a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past. Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. The best way to move forward is getting to the truth and finding out what happened — so we can make sure it does not happen again.
UPDATE: An alert reader forwarded me an email from the American Freedom Campaign, which is asking its supporters to lobby new Attorney General Eric Holder to begin investigations. The email's subject line "We Can't Handle the Truth" was followed by this opener from AFC's Campaign Director Steve Fox: "The subject line of this email isn't an admission of weakness. Rather, it is a cry of frustration. We have grown sick and tired of the Bush administration getting away with murder — figuratively, if not literally. And we are done watching Congress spin its wheels merely talking about it."
Later Fox says, "We don't need the truth. We need the Justice Department to do its job and launch a criminal investigation."
AFC was founded by Wes Boyd of MoveOn.org and author Naomi Wolf (End of America), among others.
To read more about AFC's email campaign click here.