Barbara Herbert, a course director at Tufts University School of Medicine, made a short, but compelling plea in today's New York Times. Herbert argued that the United States government should convene a truth and reconciliation commission, using the one in South Africa as a model, to investigate into possible crimes committed by the Bush administration.
A commission isn't some kind of partisan booby trap thrown together in a frenzied quest for retribution as Harry Reid suggested last week. The formation of a nonpartisan commission also wouldn't act as a nefarious tool to dismantle the foundation of The American Way (corrupting the sweet "mysteries" of life,) as Bush apologists like Peggy Noonan claim.
Such a commission would allow a nation to (a) find the truth of what happened from multiple perspectives, (b) develop an understanding of how it happened and (c) heal.
A truth commission would use the law as a compass, and its only goal would be to restore order in America. As Herbert wrote, "We need a chance for secular redemption and healing."
On Tuesday, Jeremy Scahill reported that Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder officially requesting the appointment of an independent Special Prosecutor to "to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute torture committed against detainees during the Bush administration." In order to restore credibility to the Justice Department, Holder must adhere to the rule of law, and not partisan demands. He must investigate into possible crimes committed under the Bush administration.
The law is not a fringe issue. Progressives may be the ones demanding an investigative commission, but the issue at stake here is the law itself. That's not a partisan issue. The law should be sacred to all Americans: Republicans and Democrats. And if Democrats are proven to have been complicit in torture, then they too must be punished according to the law.
Otherwise, Americans will learn only one lesson: the law does not apply to our leaders. What a terrible lesson to teach young Americans.