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09:58 AM on 01/16/2009
I'm not sure it was a failure. The whole purpose of change.gov is to keep Obama in touch with the citizens. It's the questions that count, not so much the answers, except as stimulus for the next question.

I think it has worked very well to stimulate the next question in this case. The original "Looking forward" answer was typical spin room double talk, and the mechanism of change.gov quickly got the message to Obama that it wasn't going to fly.

Much more than 52% of Americans believe in justice and want the Government to function effectively. Obama is smart enough to frame any action he takes as a response to bad actions on the part of the Bush administration.

Change.gov will ONLY work as long as people see that posting there isn't just shaking your fist at the sky. Simple volume precludes individual responses, but as long as the concerns of the group are apparent to the group and the group gets a response (not just a reply) it is working very well. Personally, I post little to change.gov. It takes so much time to do your best work, and I don't want to embarrass myself in front of this man.
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swlewis57
Working class, and proud of it.
09:57 AM on 01/16/2009
Why should he say he will prosecute or not when Bush still has his power of Pardons?

"Do not let the other players know what cards you are holding."

Basic stuff.
10:35 AM on 01/16/2009
An impeachment is basically a judgment passed on a president while he holds power. And it can't be done in secret.

I mean come ON. I'm not looking for a yes-or-no answer on whether he'll prosecute Bush or not. I'm not asking Obama to outline what his AG's investigative strategy will be.

All I want to hear is whether he will investigate to see if crimes were committed, whether he would direct Justice to prosecute such crimes if they were committed, or why he might choose not to do so if crimes were found to have been committed.

See? No tipping hands. No roadmap. Hell, ask him hypothetically: "If President A is suspected of having committed a crime, should his successor, President B, direct his cabinet to investigate and prosecute where crimes are uncovered? Why or why not?" Basic stuff, people.
11:05 AM on 01/16/2009
Impeachment only applies to a sitting official. Once Bush is out of office in 4 days and 1 hour, regular laws apply, which means indictment, prosecution, judgment and possibly a very long prison sentence.
11:11 AM on 01/16/2009
Appointing a special prosecutor has NOTHING to do with impeachment. Impeachment is only for active serving politicians, and GWB will not be one in 4 FOUR FOUR FOUR!! days. Prosecutions can be waged against him after leaving.

But for those four days, if BHO says "we're going to come at him like a spidermonkey on crack", then GWB will just pardon everybody who has ever done anything that he ever asked them to do, or pardon the whole country if they tortured or wiretapped, or something else similarly broad.

And if you want a hypo, the incoming AG just said yesterday in hearings that 'nobody is above the law, torture is illegal, and that means the President can't torture." What more do you want?
09:32 AM on 01/16/2009
My $0.02 here. I'm guessing/hoping that Obama will continue to make opaque references to potential criminal investigations of Bush, Cheney, etal., but not appear to be in the forefront of pushing for such investigations. It will be elected officials like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to pursue those issues and allow the Obama administration to be "above the fray" while focusing on the economy. I BHO himself appeared to take the lead in this matter, it would undercut his needed focus on the economy AND it would evoke hysterical cliams of vindictiveness from the Far-Right.

Either that, or BHO really doesn't want to see the Constitution upheld. Hope it's the former.

Wilbur
10:39 AM on 01/16/2009
Any Senator would have introduce such a matter would need to get votes from Democratic Senators who were either complicit in Bush's actions or in need of favors from those who were. Good luck.
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vjoseph
12:05 PM on 01/16/2009
Well said
This user has chosen to opt out of the Badges program
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09:26 AM on 01/16/2009
Might I point out that discussing special prosecutors and war crime trials while the perpetrators are still in the White House and in command of the government is fairly unintelligent. While someone can still declare martial law is not the time to mention to them that you want to put them in prison.

If you are being held hostage, you don't tell the kidnappers that you saw their faces and will make sure and go to the police after you get free.
09:53 AM on 01/16/2009
Wrong wrong wrong. This should have been done long ago, while they were IN office. It's called impeachment.
10:26 AM on 01/16/2009
That is how I feel. The members of congress have allowed this to go on for all of this time and now everyone wants Obama to do the heavy lifting those cowards wouldn't. Although it is not the president's place to tell the DOJ what to investigate. He has appointed an AG who clearly stated that water boarding is torture. He appointed someone to the OLC who has openly stated that there should be investigations into the Bush administration. I think he has done a fine job staffing the DOJ with folks who support the idea that no one is above the law. Especially Bush. It is the responsibility of the legislative and judiciary branches to investigate and enforce laws. Not the executive branch. AG is a cabinet position but the department was intended to function as an arm of the judiciary.
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Oldchef
Former Executive Chef, tr0ll watcher
10:28 AM on 01/16/2009
Yes, it should have been, but Pelosi "took it off the table". Seemingly the only Dem with any balls was Kucinich, who couldn't seem to interest anyone else to pursue his impeachment resolution. The Congress still won't do anything. Too many of them are culpable.
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dbw53022
Fiscally conservative. Socially liberal.
09:22 AM on 01/16/2009
I hope the "looking forward" message is simply a ruse to lull the current administration into a state of comfort. It would be great to have the current administration end without pre-emptive pardons for all of Bush's henchmen.

Then on Jan 21st, we could appoint a special prosecutor, and servce justice.
09:03 AM on 01/16/2009
"Reno got the OK to appoint a SP from the WH because of overwhelming pressure from Congress"

I don't think I have it backward. As you stated, Congress puts the pressure on the DOJ. The White House doesn't have to OK anything. Congress needs to hold hearings, then pressure the DOJ for a special prosecutor. That is just the way it works. But please understand Reno didn't need Clinton's OK. In fact Lanny Davis and other Clinton aides put tremendous pressure on Reno not to appoint an SP. The 111th congress should be just as vigilant about Bush.
11:02 AM on 01/16/2009
Just a thought, how much cleaning up needs to be done in DoJ before there is a reasonable chance of an honest investigation? Bush may not be worried about prosecution because he stuffed the DoJ with NeoCons.
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Jahmekyah
Football fan, news addict
09:02 AM on 01/16/2009
Whats the complaint here....sure they tried to pass it off (as politicians are wont to do: i.e. trying not to tie themselves down to a politically uncomfortable answer)...but the mere existence of change.gov and the avenue that has been created by the transition for interaction makes it possible even to catch them in their own end-around...an opportunity you wouldn't have if change.gov didn't exist. So this is not a failure, this is a success. The transition team was snared by their own pledge of transparency and openness...which is GOOD!!!!

P.S. sorry to rain on your parade, I know this "prosecutions for torture" thing is really important to a lot of you guys....but seriously, is this issue so much more important than two wars and a flailing economy??? I mean geez guys, priorities.
09:19 AM on 01/16/2009
uh......

prosecuting for torture has everything to do with the 2 wars. And part of the reason the economy is tanking is because of the billions of dollars we spend each month on those wars. They are not detached issues. Our gov't. should be able to walk and chew gum at the time. Handle the economy AND prosecute for torture. Obama has shown us that there is such a thing as multi-tasking, as oppose to the tunnel-vision of the previous administration.
08:25 AM on 01/16/2009
"no, but they do direct their AG to do so"

I don't think so, did Bill Clinton ask Reno to appoint Ken Starr? Did Nixon appoint the special prosecutor in Watergate? That is congresses job. Presidents appoint do nothing commissions. I don't want another commission.
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Helzapoppin
08:38 AM on 01/16/2009
You have it completely backward. Congress does not appoint special prosecutors. The Justice Dept Does, at the request of the WH. Congress does appoint commissions.

Reno got the OK to appoint a SP from the WH because of overwhelming pressure from Congress, but the ok still came from the WH. Nixon gave Justice the ok for a SP in Watergate from the same kind of pressure, then tried to have that SP fired when he started sniffing out the truth.
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Helzapoppin
08:49 AM on 01/16/2009
(sic) that should be Independent Counsel law
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Helzapoppin
08:48 AM on 01/16/2009
And actually, Starr was appointed by a 3 judge panel under the now defunct Independent Investigator law that began in 1978 and expired in 1999.
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babaann
If I had known I would live this long.........
08:24 AM on 01/16/2009
Maybe it has something to do with priortizing.
11:24 AM on 01/16/2009
good call
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WorkingClass
08:11 AM on 01/16/2009
Its already quite clear that Obama does not intend to provide honest answers to our questions. I would like to know WHY he wont investigate torture and spying on the American people. "Looking forward" is just spin. I would really love to know WHY he wants to continue the prohibition of marijuana. Is it for political expediency? Then say so. Is it because people more powerful than him will not allow it? Then say so.
09:58 AM on 01/16/2009
Those are fantastic questions. His AG appointee has already stated that, as he sees it, water boarding is torture and torture is illegal. The next question should be something like, "by what criteria do you decide to let a heinous crime go unpunished?"
08:10 AM on 01/16/2009
"Totally agree, the same old politics.......get elected by telling supporters what they "want" to hear and then not follow through with your promises.....too bad really"

Did Obama run on a platform of arresting Bush? I must have missed that over the past two years. His answers on the campaign trail were just like the answers he's giving now. "No one's above the law". Vague, I'll admit, but consistent. Besides, would he really say that he was going to investigate Bush at a time when he has needed Bush to help with the transition, TARP money, ect? This is the real world here in D.C. Now if Congress has a spine, they will appoint a special prosecutor and once they have the evidence they need they will turn the case over to the Justice Dept. and action will be taken.
10:08 AM on 01/16/2009
When questioned, Obama repeatedly stated that he would have his Justice Department investigate whether or not crimes were committed and to follow through with prosecution if it is merited. He did say that.

The Congress won't do bunk. Democrats were aware of all the administration's crimes as they were taking place--this has already been reported. Any investigation would implicate them; maybe not for criminal behavior, but certainly for plain ol' bad judgment. For all their talk of justice and America, they're politicians, after all.

And didn't you know? We have to look forward, to the 2010 elections, not backward. Hold all criticism until after 2016, unless Hillary runs again.
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brantl
02:11 PM on 01/16/2009
Congressional committees can compel testimony, Congress doesn't appoint special prosecuters, the DOJ does.
08:00 AM on 01/16/2009
Presidents don't appoint special prosecutors. They just don't.
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Helzapoppin
08:04 AM on 01/16/2009
no, but they do direct their AG to do so, and the AG usually wont without that direction from the WH. So the difference is just semantics.
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brantl
02:08 PM on 01/16/2009
Not true. Many AGs run their own shows. But believe what you want.
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Helzapoppin
07:58 AM on 01/16/2009
Although I agree that change.gov has been caught in the typical Washington web of lip service, it should be pointed out that it's really not up to Obama whether the Bush administration is investigated for crimes. Aside from appointing a special prosecutor - which presumably would take an ok from Obama for the Justice Dept to proceed with that (which shouldnt be how the Justice Dept works, but thats a different rant) - the bulk of investigatory initiative belongs to Congress.

Obama clearly doesnt want to hold investigations, which is sad and dangerous in itself. The best bet for movement at this point would be for Congress to investigate on its own and uncover evidence damning enough that Obama would be forced to direct Justice to appoint a SP.
07:10 AM on 01/16/2009
Most popular doesn't always equate to Most important or best.

I'd treat the "previously answered" flub as a bug, and be glad that the OPEN system based on many eyeballs caught it, which means the system is working.

If it becomes a habit, then I'd worry some..
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WorkingClass
07:55 AM on 01/16/2009
Gee. You sound like a Republican.
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Helzapoppin
08:01 AM on 01/16/2009
yes, the current crop of sycophantic Obama apologists sound an awful lot like sycophantic Bush apologists used to sound.
06:01 AM on 01/16/2009
Maybe Obama doesn't want to tip his hands about investigations/prosecutions so Bush won't feel compelled to issue a ton of pardons. I think that as a constitutional scholar/professor Obama knows about the necessity of the rule of law and what it takes to protect it. Retaining a little ambiguity for a few days might be worth it in the longer run.
09:03 AM on 01/16/2009
this is EXACTLY what I have been thinking - down to the exact words I was about to write till I saw your post "doesn't want to tip his hands"!

How much of an outrage would there be if Obama said, yes, we will definitely be appointing a prosecutor, only to be followed by some blanket pardon issued by Bush.

I do not know a lot about the pardon process, but am still concerned that he will issue some blanket pardon even though there are no known charges against any specific persons. From what I have heard listening to the Holder hearings, each pardon is supposed to be thoroughly researched by Justice - for GW to issue such a pardon, wouldn't that require thoroughly researching torture and warrantless wiretapping, etc? Just hope these criminals don't somehow pre-empt their takedown.
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Oldchef
Former Executive Chef, tr0ll watcher
10:33 AM on 01/16/2009
It looks as if they're going to get away with the warrantless wiretaps and e-mail interceptions since the court has declared them legal. Republicans on the committees will say it's already been decided in the courts.
entropyisfun
why we cant have nice things
10:46 AM on 01/16/2009
Pardons cannot be issued preemptively. An individual has to be found guilty of a crime BEFORE being pardoned.