We are on the cusp of perhaps the most significant development in our multi-year quest for accountability:
Multiple sources are reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder is likely to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate possible crimes committed by and under the authority of the Bush Administration – particularly as they relate to the use of torture.
Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind: such an appointment is critical to the integrity of our system of government. As you know, I have been pushing for such accountability for quite some time.
All of the evidence publicly available raises significant questions as to whether the Bush Administration or interrogators violated the law regarding the authorization and use of interrogation techniques. Such techniques such as excessive waterboarding and extreme physical brutality likely violated existing American law and international treaties against torture and led to the death of prisoners held in US custody.
The Attorney General testified in the Judiciary Committee recently: "If somebody was tortured to death, clearly a crime would have occurred."
There are those who fear that an investigation will distract and divide us at a time when we need to focus on very pressing issues such as health care, the economy, and foreign policy. The truth is that we can and must do both. Just as we must repair our health care and economic system, we must also repair of system of justice.
The appointment of a Special Prosecutor has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the seriousness of the allegations and the evidence that supports them.
In fact, by appointing a Special Prosecutor – the Department of Justice separates itself from the investigation, allowing the evidence to be considered totally independent of political or institutional influences.
I refuse to believe that many Americans, regardless of their political leanings, would want any President, Vice President, or Cabinet official to exist above the law. That is not democracy.
Should we fail to investigate alleged abuses of power – even at this late date – we concede our rights and set dangerous precedents for the future.
Enforcement of our laws preserves the balance of power – not simply between branches of government – but between citizens and their elected leaders.
Congressman Robert Wexler