Leahy To Maddow: Bush Officials Could Be Prosecuted

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From RawStory this morning:


Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in an interview Tuesday evening that Bush Administration officials could be criminally prosecuted if they lied under oath as part of a proposed investigation into Bush-era abuses.

Leahy chose his words carefully, to be sure. But his words went slightly farther than that of other Congressional Democrats, who maintain that probing abuses of the Bush era is critical to preserving the integrity of law.

“You’re going to have people, some people will say, let’s go ahead and prosecute everybody,” Leahy told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow Tuesday. “That can take 10 or 15 years. Others want to ignore everything. I don’t agree with that.

But, he said, the Senate could set up a “truth commission” like that established by Sen. Frank Church in the 1970s, which was aimed at bringing out abuses of the President Richard Nixon era. Church’s commission resulted in an array of reforms that tightened civil liberties protections after Nixon’s infamous wiretapping and Watergate scandals.

“What if a truth commission did a thorough investigation of the type you’re describing and they found that in fact horrible crimes were committed?” Maddow asked. “If there wouldn’t be prosecution, how would say — how would we say now we know and they all legally got away with it, how would that stop these things from happening again?”

Leahy seemed to signal a slight shift — previously his focus seemed more on uncovering misdeeds than in prosecuting officials. While not saying that he was planning for prosecutions, he indicated that they could certainly result.

“I think because of the fact it’s very, very public and the way they find out about it, it makes it very clear to the next person, you try the same thing, you are going to be found out, you are going to be prosecuted,” Leahy said. “You are also going to have some people that will refuse to — perhaps refuse to testify, even though offered immunity. With the evidence from the others, they can be prosecuted. And, of course, anybody can be prosecuted for perjury.”

David Carle, a spokesman for Sen. Leahy, noted that Leahy’s commission concept was a proposal and no bill had yet been introduced.

“He wanted to begin a discussion,” Carle said.

Asked about potential prosecutions, he reiterated that immunity would still “of course” require truthful replies.

Leahy subpoenaed Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove to testify on the firing of nine US Attorneys in 2007. Rove never appeared. He was subsequently called to testify twice by the House Judiciary Committee, and said recently that he would refuse to honor congressional subpoenas related to the case.

Leahy’s commission concept received a cool response from President Barack Obama in his Tuesday night press conference, though Obama admitted he hadn’t read it.

“It’s not a perfect way of doing it, but it may be the only way to get the truth out,” Leahy said. “And I think that the only way you’re going to stop a future administration from being tempted to do some of the same things is if the truth comes out.”

Immunity seems to be the keystone of Leahy’s plan to extract the truth.

You “either grant enough immunity to get the truth out or you don’t get it at all, because otherwise you are just going to have constant stonewalling.”

Why would those who testified get immunity?

“The only way they would have immunity would be if they testified and testified thoroughly,” he added. “Because they would be asked under oath, have you given us all of the information? You withhold, that’s perjury and you would be prosecuted for that.”



This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 10, 2009.

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    • Edger on February 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm
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  1. Personally, I think a truth commission that Leahy proposes is a last resort. The first resort should be criminal investigation and prosecution when warranted.  

    • Edger on February 11, 2009 at 7:57 pm
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  2. we need a Guillotine Commission.

    • OPOL on February 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    In my mind it’s not about vengeance, it’s about preventing future tyranny.  If the buck doesn’t stop here, there is no buck.

  3. “http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/29128721#29128721”  

  4. that our government has always been circumspect about telling the truth……….

    after JFK, Iran/Contra, Cointelpro……….

    some of us(our leaders?!?) seem to believe we can not handle the truth…….

    and therefor actually only look for a way to keep our civil society from falling apart……

    our culture is rooted in a social agreement so discredited that if the truth were known it is feared we would move into anarchy…..

    individually I no longer agree to be ruled by the common law of the land as it is unjust……..

    I will no longer agree to willingly be a self domesticating slave to the capital elites of this world…..

    and this is not just the laws of this land but of all others…..

    I believe this will be perused only to the extent that is necessary to keep the process of wealth formation moving forward……..

  5. I think it’s about time to, I’m not saying ignore, but don’t give too much attention to all of their suggestions, i.e., Conyers, Leahy, etc., and demand that they listen to what WE WANT — a Special Prosecutor.  How do we do this?  Just keep screaming it over and over and over — not let up!

    And I made calls to Holder’s office twice today to tell him to cooperate and release whatever documents in the case of Mohamed v. Jepperson, et al. — and to remove the “state secrets”  preventing justice from being done and not try to cover up torture.  I called Nadler, Leahy, Spector and and Kennedy’s offices, and asked that they reintroduce the State Secrets Protection Act right away (Nadler’s office responded that they are working on it right now).  I think called Holder’s office again and asked that he extend the statute of limitations as to war crimes and illegal wire-tapping which are about to expire soon.

    I have posted materials for action by David Swanson — it seems that only one person in each instant saw it.

    Tonight, I am going to post another diary by David Swanson, and he has a list of things to do — you can print it out and work on it in whatever way you wish.  While it’s great that we, here, delve in and get to the bottom of each and every thing, it’s not enough — we need to back it up with action.  Swanson hasn’t missed a trick in that respect, as you will see.

    Just sayin’!

  6. …did a mail out to his e-lists today specifically asking folks to sign “our” petition.  That should get some more sigs.

  7. spent well over an hour attempting to make an essay out of David Swanson’s latest diary on his website, which will give you, me, everyone, everything you could possible want in order to take affirmative action.  It was full of “links” and I was trying to do all of the links almost to the end of the e-mail, something happened and I lost it all.  I am absolutely “verklempt.”

    I am too tired to attempt to go through the processes again tonight — but I hope to attempt to do again tomorrow.  It is so important and so much worth our time and energy that I attempt to do so.  I also plan to do a broadcast of his e-mail.

    Sorry — I intend to keep my word!

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