Rep. John Conyers, via HuffPo:
The Obama era began in earnest last week, with bold action such as closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and promising to end torture. In its very first days, the new administration has begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding executive branch operations, and has made great strides forward on fundamental challenges such as energy and the environment, and above all the national economic crisis left in the wake of the Bush Presidency. While great challenges and much hard work remain, the way forward is bright and clear.
As we proceed, however, the question remains how best to respond to the severe challenge posed to our constitutional structure, and to our national honor, by the Bush administration's actions, and in particular its national security programs. Faced with a record of widespread warrantless surveillance inside the United States, brutal interrogation policies condemned by the administration's own head of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions as torture, and flawed rendition practices that resulted in innocent men being abducted and handed to other countries to face barbaric abuse, what actions will we take to meet our commitment to the rule of law and reclaim our standing as a moral leader among nations?
To this point, I've sided with Obama's notion that we should just "move forward." It's not that I wouldn't love seeing Bush's "security" policies flayed before the public eye, believe me, I'd enjoy that. But it seems like there is a lot to do right now, and I'd much prefer 8 years of an Obama administration than risking it by "getting even." I believe with little doubt that such a Bush/Cheney trial would overshadow the positive effects of the Obama stimulus, or any advances made toward an open government. It would preclude the first two years of the new administration's achievments in the public mind. But what Conyers writes in this op-ed is convincing.
His strongest argument is that Bush and Yoo and Cheney didn't commit these acts or enact this policy, we did. America. And an independent review would not only bring to light facts of policy formation that are probably still well hidden from the light of day, it would also send a message to the rest of the world (and arguably our own psyche) that this is not what we are about, and though we lost sight of it, we haven't completely forgotten the Rule of Law. His second most valid point is that while many are worried about a "cycle of timidity" in the intelligence community, should a trial begin, few -- if any -- are making the case against a more realistic possibility: A cycle of aggression.
No revenge. No vindictive atonement. Just a reaffirmation of what we stand for, exampled by an independent review of how certain (still surprising) policies became a part of our nation's history, and hopefully a lesson as to why it should not -- and hopefully will not -- happen again.