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Many of us are hoping, almost demanding, an accounting for the crimes committed by the Bush administration. It would be deeply satisfying to see some of the law-breakers frog-marched... but possibly counterproductive.

But we need more than just justice - we need admissions. We need those who did wrong to acknowledge the wrong-doing, instead of letting them cry "I'm a victim of politics". We don't need more Oliver North-like convictions, where the perps deny everything and are back on the TV in the future claiming they did nothing wrong. Luckily, there's a way to satisfy both our need to see justice done and still avoid widening the rift between left and right.

Nelson Mandela showed us the way... follow me over the jump to see how we can follow his example.

The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Mandela created after coming to power in South Africa was pure genius. By allowing people to come before the commission and admit their wrongdoings, thereby receiving amnesty, they were able to get the crimes on record in such a way that they could never be denied. By telling these people they would be pursued legally if they didn't come clean they were able to get convictions of the most egregious of the criminals.

This solution leads to healing - the supporters of the Bush administration would be unable to make claims of a witch hunt if people like Yoo and Gonzales admitted they'd broken laws in open testimony, and if they refused to make admissions it would be easy to make the case against them using the testimony of those who did their bidding. By refusing to testify, if that's the course they take, they open themselves up to prison.

I think this solution makes more sense, and would be more satisfying in the long run - if we'd done this after Iran-Contra we wouldn't have had so many of those plotters back in the Bush administration years later. It's a fact, unfortunately, that the right will be back in power some time in the future - and I for one would feel better if those future Republican administrations didn't include John Yoo and his ilk.

In the end, the truth is more important than punishing the criminals. It's more important because convictions, absent admissions, will only further polarize the country. Let's get the truth, and begin to heal.

Originally posted to sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:01 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The truth is out there... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, Otteray Scribe

    We know it... but there are tens of millions of Americans who don't. Let's show them.

    barn's burnt down; now i can see the moon - Basho

    by sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:02:46 AM PDT

  •  That's a stunning viewpoint! (3+ / 0-)

    The notion that people can admit wrong doing, and receive a free pass for their crimes, is one of the most ridiculous ideas that I've ever heard. That I could torture people, murder people, and then get away with it by simply admitting what I did doesn't honor truth; it defeats it since justice and truth are two sides of the same coin.

    I understand what you're trying to do here, but this is not the way. We don't need admissions. We need accountability, and that comes from a trial and a sentence. You call for healing, but that can never occur without wrongdoers being punished, and an example of the law triumphing over men being made.

    •  Accountability? (0+ / 0-)

      Good luck with that - paging Oliver North....

      I want accountability as much as you do, but I'd rather keep the same crap from happening again.

      barn's burnt down; now i can see the moon - Basho

      by sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:45:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Crap? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        One Pissed Off Liberal

        You say that you would rather keep the same crap from happening again, and you would do this by passing out get out of jail free cards? What kind of thinking is this? Maybe we should clear out our prisons too. Just confess, and you go free.

        You bring up Ollie North, as if his life would have unfolded differently had he confessed to his crimes. It's a far stretch to think people wouldn't commit crime if they knew they could get away with it simply by admitting it. That's precisely what you're saying here by suggesting that lawbreakers go free.

        •  With your way... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe

          ...we get nothing. There will be no trials, no matter how much you want them. Do you really think the Democrats in Congress are going to hold anyone accountable? What precedent is there for that?

          I'm not stupid - I don't want law-breakers to go free. But I want accountability - admissions of the crimes so the rightwing noise machine is denied their inevitable denials.

          Here's an example - Libby. If he'd admitted wrongdoing we'd all be a lot better off. The way it turned out he's a hero to the right. If he'd admitted his crime he'd be off the Republican rubber-chicken circuit.

          I guess I'm more concerned about the future than I am in revenge - even if the revenge is warranted.

          barn's burnt down; now i can see the moon - Basho

          by sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 05:00:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Revenge (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            One Pissed Off Liberal

            This is a comment from another diary on the same subject:

            But I disagree with your characterization that many of us want heads on a platter, as if this were a matter of retribution.

            It's a matter of believing that no one is above the law, or that the law only applies to the little guy. It's about believing that we are responsible for our actions, and that we must be held accountable for them. It has little to do with retribution, and everything to do with the principles that we teach our children.

            I'll dread the day when we teach our children that the law only applies to the poor, and that only the poor are responsible for their actions. Your willingness to extend amnesty sets the stage for that very thing.

            You argue that with my way, we get nothing because the democrats will not hold anyone accountable. If you're not willing to demand that they do, and hold them accountable for doing otherwise, then what's the use of even trying to bring about change?

            If we expected more from our representatives, and then followed through by voting those out of office that didn't live up to those expectations, then our representatives would be more willing to hold people accountable for their actions.

            Your message to them is that you will allow them to do as they please, and that you won't hold them accountable. This is the message they've been getting, and this is why they act the way they do. We suffer for it.

            •  There are a lot of things I want... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              edbb

              I'd like to hold the Democrats accountable for putting some of these people on trial... but it isn't going to happen. I'm surprised you think it might happen.

              Voting them out of office is a great idea. But 40% of the country thinks torture is okay. The 30% of us who want accountability are never going to be the majority, unfortunately.

              By the way - you keep stating my "message" for me - not necessary. I stated my own message in the diary. The message is let's get to the bottom of this, let's have a full accounting of what happened, and I'm okay if it takes amnesty for those willing to admit their crimes. You keep saying this lets them get off scott-free, which is very wrong. Imagine how powerful it would be if CNN covered a commission hearing where Gonzales admitted his crimes, implicating Bush and Cheney. FAR more powerful than sending him to jail while he cried "I didn't do it!"

              Gonzales would be shamed - and I'd rather he was shamed than locked up. Shame is more powerful. Locking him up will only get him a book contract with Regnery.

              barn's burnt down; now i can see the moon - Basho

              by sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 05:42:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are wrong, because (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                One Pissed Off Liberal

                  these people have no sense of shame. They think they have nothing to be ashamed of. They believe that what they did was right! I don't know why people don't get that.

                  You say you don't want this to happen again. The way you prevent that is by throwing the bastards in jail! The ringleaders of the current official crime wave are veterans of the Nixon regime, who were allowed to skate instead of being jailed. Thank Gerald Ford for that.

                  Sorry. A mea culpa doesn't begin to pay for the damage these traitors have done.

                What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq? Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

                by happy camper on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 06:03:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Shame? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                One Pissed Off Liberal

                If that's the solution for crime, then let's at least apply it evenly across the board. Let's abolish prison, and let everyone go free, so long as they admit their crimes and feel ashamed.

                But my guess is that you'll only apply this rule to the rich and the powerful. One law for us, and another for them.

                This view is precisely what the establishment would prefer. Nevertheless, we'll never hold them accountable in either way unless we demand it, which you are quite certain will never happen. I'm not so cynical.

                •  State your position, but... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... don't characterize mine. I disagree that the "establishment" would like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and I disagree that the commission would do no good.

                  But mostly I'm stunned that you think there are going to be trials. I'm beating my head against the wall here. There aren't going to be any trials no matter how much we wish for them. It doesn't do any good to say "but I want there to be trials".

                  I never said this was a good alternative for prison - but there's a giant difference here that you won't seem to acknowledge - a large percentage of the American population is on their side! Getting these people to agree to a Truth Commission is possible exactly because they don't believe there's been any wrongdoing.

                  barn's burnt down; now i can see the moon - Basho

                  by sfgary on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 06:52:31 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Population? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    One Pissed Off Liberal

                    If a large percentage of the population were on their side, you wouldn't expect them to have an approval rate that is even lower than the President's. Besides, I doubt that if asked which is preferable, accountability or a free pass, that the population would choose the latter.

                    We've been through the back and forth on this issue several times now, and it's obvious that you're going to remain with your position that accountability is not possible beyond truth telling, and I'm going to remain with my position that it is. I'm pretty sure you will agree that there is little point in continuing to repeat the same arguments. Good luck to you.

  •  The problem with Truth and Reconciliation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edbb, Kronos Blue

    Commissions is that lots of criminals ultimately get let off the hook, which hardly satisfies Justice, let alone the relatives of the people who died as a result of the crimes. IMO, the Nuremberg and Toyko trials are a much better model, although in the Toyko trials, the wrong general got executed for the rape of Nanking, while the Emperor's relative who was directly responsible went free. See: Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, by author Bergamini (sorry, I forgot his first name).

  •  Looks like we're on the same page (0+ / 0-)

    Eh?

  •  I think that they should not only be accountable (0+ / 0-)

    for their crimes but anyone that conspired to cover up their crimes should go to prison with them.
    The only exception that I would make would be those few who could prove that they feared for their personal safety if they refused.

    Any other alternative means that the laws of this land are meaningless.

    The investigation should begin with the voting fraud that put these monsters in power and those responsible should be indicted for treason.
    They sold our Democracy. For pieces of silver.

    "When the powerful say that the price was worth the blood and treasure, you can bet your ass it wasn't their blood, nor their treasure."

    by sceptical observer on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 03:56:43 AM PDT

  •  Don't lets forget (0+ / 0-)

    The Democrats like Pelosi who got so wrapped up in collusion with these thugs that she forgot her own responsibility to uphold the law.   Let's get rid of all in DC who put politics above the law.  

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