Patrick Leahy, the senator from Vermont- the same state that gave us Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean and Ben & Jerry’s (well, a .250 average isn’t that bad)- recently gave a little noticed speech at Georgetown University Law School. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he outlined their legislative agenda. Among other lofty goals, it was his comments near the end of his speech that are most telling and interesting. Leahy appeared to float the idea of investigating the alleged “crimes” of the Bush Administration- “illegal detentions,” “warrantless wiretaps,” the firing of federal prosecutors, the practice of rendition, alleged instances of torture, etc. He has even created a name for this “investigation”- the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would be yet another tax payer paid blue ribbon, “bipartisan” panel to “seek the truth and make recommendations.”
However, a closer reading of the speech reveals its true intentions. Protest to the contrary as he may, there are several Democrats who have an axe to grind. There are legislators who are living in the 18th century in response to a post- 9/11 America. He states that the purpose of the commission would not be to seek criminal prosecutions. But, in the same breath he then says that the panel should have subpoena power and the authority “to grant immunity from prosecution.” I am no lawyer, but these are two very powerful tools in developing criminal cases. Hence, the true purpose of this panel is then revealed.
While some rational members of Congress (and there aren’t too many of them) will argue against the idea, Leahy states, “We can’t turn the page until we’ve read the page.” Expect to hear this sound bite in the upcoming debate regarding these needless “investigations.” Of equal concern, there are similar efforts under way in the House under the leadership of John Conyers of Michigan. In fact, he has already apparently played the role of judge, jury and executioner and has compiled a 300+ page indictment of alleged abuses that need investigation. Sadly, the House is more solidly under the control of the Democrats than the Senate and given the way Pelosi dealt with “porkulus,” we can’t expect Winky to thwart this idea. In fact, she probably supports it wholeheartedly.
Given the way they handled the stimulus package, can anyone really trust the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Conyers, Steny Hoyer, or Patrick Leahy to come up with a “bipartisan” panel? In actuality, they would be creating a kangaroo court more akin to what is done in a country like North Korea than in the United States. In this country, if you don’t like the current leader’s policies, you vote them out of office. That is apparently what happened on November 4, 2008. You don’t vote them out, investigate them and then prosecute them. But, this is where these “leaders” are leading this country. Why don’t we just avoid the expense and publicly flog Alberto Gonzalez and Dick Cheney?
The arrogance of these guys is incredible. Patrick Leahy is also on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is a joke in Washington that you don’t need to bug their hearing room because Leahy will eventually “leak” information. This man is a sieve when it comes to confidential intelligence information conveyed to the Committee. It is an ion-going joke in the nation’s capital. And he wants to investigate the Bush Administration? To add insult to injury, he says in his speech that the Commission could be modeled after a similar effort in post-apartheid South Africa. Considering we are modeling health care reform after socialized European programs and modeling banking reform after the “Sweden model,” I guess a “truth commission” modeled after something from South Africa is not so preposterous.
Besides being loose with the tongue regarding intelligence information and proposing truth commissions (by the way, didn’t I read about these things in “1984” by George Orwell?), Leahy is known for one other thing. A few years ago, before an open C-Span microphone, then Vice President Dick Cheney rather unceremoniously dismissed Leahy on the Senate floor. Although the actual response cannot be repeated here (it is sort of like “kiss off,” just change the word “kiss”…use your imagination). With regards to his Truth Commission, I second the words and sentiments of Dick Cheney where Patrick Leahy is concerned.