During his press conference on Monday evening, President Obama pledged to look forwards rather than backwards when it came to investigating the misdeeds of the Bush administration. It was a carefully crafted answer, designed to neither anger nor encourage individuals either side of this contentious issue. For possible victims of legal and political injustice during the Bush years, however, it wasn't nearly enough.
Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Alabama arrested on trumped up bribery charges allegedly linked to Karl Rove, wrote the Huffington Post on Tuesday to offer his opinion of Obama's answer.
Today, with a new President, everything seems brighter, more vibrant. There is a sense of hope, a new optimism... we can see change for the better coming....piercing the dark, pain of the past eight years.
I appreciate the president's desire to fix the problems created by the Bush Administration saying in part: "...let's get it right moving forward."
However, if those who have abused their power are allowed to get away with it, then it is more likely to happen again. We have seen our American Democracy threatened, our constitutional rights abused and our system of Justice subverted. We know the Bush Administration led us into war under false pretenses, used illegal wiretaps and torture to get information and used the Department of Justice as a political weapon to win elections.
For the country to safely move forward we must repair the damage done to the foundations of our democracy. That starts with digging until we get the truth as Chairman John Conyers has been doing and as Senator Leahy is now proposing and holding accountable those who have abused their power.
Restoring justice and preserving our democracy requires nothing less and that would in itself be a great legacy for our new President.
Siegelman was pivoting off of a speech given on Monday by Senator Patrick Leahy, who pushed the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush years. On Monday, Obama said he had not read Leahy's proposal and, as such, couldn't render an opinion on it. His aides have said they would provide an answer to the Huffington Post when one is formulated.
The president did say that people -- presumably Bush officials included -- "should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen," implicitly suggesting that if illegality is proven it would be brought to court. But, he added, "Generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards. I want to pull everybody together, including, by the way, the -- all the members of the intelligence community who have done things the right way and have been working hard to protect America and I think sometimes are painted with a broad brush without adequate information."