The Bush/Cheney Impeachment Papers

Dedicated to Constitutional Accountability

Why a Truth & Reconciliation Commission Is Better Than Impeachment

with 3 comments

Three weeks ago I asked Mark Gisleson of the late and lamented blog Norwegianity to write something on this issue. He didn’t think impeachment would ever happen for political reasons, but he had another suggestion – and this was 2 weeks before Richard Clarke….[MA]

 by Mark Gisleson

Sunday, Mick made the case for impeaching George W. Bush. It was a great post. Impeachment would have been wonderful, but I’m afraid our new Congress still most closely resembles a halfway house where the inmates have overpowered the staff and corporate hookers come and go at all hours of the day and night.

 

No, Congress isn’t going to fix this for us because they don’t have the guts to cross the people who actually own them.

 

If we want justice, we will have to take that cup from Congress. We need a South African style Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Forgoing punishment for Bush’s heinous minions would be hard, but with no guarantee of more trials, I think it’s more important that the truth be set free. Mick’s OK with a truth and reconciliation commission, but he thinks we can have that and trials. You can’t. The point of a truth and reconciliation commission is to waive the trials so as to provide an incentive for the guilty parties to testify.

 

The rules are very simple: Testify truthfully, and you’re immune from prosecution. Lie under oath, and you’re not only guilty of perjury but can be tried for the crimes you didn’t confess to <i>and</i> the ones you did. Testimony must be made publicly, and every detail must be recorded and made available.

 

Sixteen years before Nelson Mandela called for this measure in South Africa, five marchers were killed by Klansmen and Nazis in Greensboro, North Carolina. Twenty-six years later, North Carolina followed Mandela’s example and formed their own Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the festering wounds from that terrible day. In Greensboro, the pain of the 1979 massacre had been greatly exacerbated by two criminal trials, both of which ended in acquittal for all the defendants. Adam Zucker made a documentary about the proceedings, Greensboro: Closer to the Truth.

 

North Carolina’s not the deep South, but still they couldn’t convict. How can we expect to try and convict war criminals like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush when a quarter of all Americans think they’re heroes? Wouldn’t it be better instead to have Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, etc., spilling their guts on live TV?

 

Making sure every American knows what happened since 9/11 is more important than sticking a lethal needle in Condeleeza Rice’s bony arm. Not as gratifying perhaps, but it is imperative that all Americans have the same understanding of what we’ve been through, and why we can never let this happen again.

 

Congress could set this up to run independently (with maybe a little help from the DOJ). Subpoenas wouldn’t be necessary since all testimony is voluntary (but if you don’t testify you might end up getting tried).

 

It would be easy to dismiss this as a liberal fantasy, but assembling a truth and reconciliation commission isn’t just my idea. Richard Clarke also thinks it’s a good idea:

 

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

 

Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

 

Think Progress

 

A search for “truth and reconciliation commission” turns up over 7,000 matches on Google Blog Search. The idea is in play, and I think it’s worth our time to push to introduce this solution to the rest of the country.

 

Let’s face it. The chances of getting a successful impeachment through this bought and paid for Congress are less than slight, barring Bush invading Iran before the election. Likewise, the chances of master compromiser Barack Obama shipping Bush and Cheney off to The Hague seem very slim to none.

 

A truth and reconciliation commission’s beauty is that it does not wave a stick so much as dangle a carrot, the carrot being a promise not to use the stick. When dyed in the wool neoconservatives are in the docket confessing to this administration’s sins, it will put some remedies into play much, much sooner than if we went for convictions and then had to deal with the attending multiple-year cable news funfest as the world’s best lawyers and legal minds inflicted delay after delay upon the system.

 

Another benefit would be that the DOJ wouldn’t get bogged down at a time when it will have to move quickly to avoid the statute of limitations being exceeded in countless cases of cynically well-timed perjury and corruption.

 

Truth and reconciliation commissions are, by their very nature, very camera friendly. Enabling legislation should mandate PBS to cover every bit of major testimony from gavel to gavel. And give them some money so they can do the proper research and find some experts who can explain what each witness did, what they saw, and what their testimony means.

 

Best of all, such testimony could also come from network executives caught between conniving corporate owners and increasingly propagandized news programming. Contractors could talk about the obscene prices charged, the size of the kickbacks, and who they went to. Frightened secretaries could spell out the degree to which the administration and Blackwater colluded.

 

Coverage could be shown in Iraq, as well, helping in some small way to let them see that we were wrong, and that we now know we were wrong. I think such a commission would comfort the entire world, letting other countries know that real small ‘d’ democrats are in charge again.

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Written by Mick

June 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Posted in T&RC

3 Responses

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  1. If BushCo attacks Iran before the election, his popularity will have already soared thanks to whatever event demanded the attack on Iran.

    How can we expect to try and convict war criminals like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush when a quarter of all Americans think they’re heroes? Let’s face it. The chances of getting a successful impeachment through this bought and paid for Congress are less than slight, barring Bush invading Iran before the election. Likewise, the chances of master compromiser Barack Obama shipping Bush and Cheney off to The Hague seem very slim to none.

    I’m all for T&R Commissions but if the above is true, then there is no stick to make the carrot appealing.

    eRobin

    June 11, 2008 at 11:05 am

  2. […] will also reportedly urge the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission — something Mark Gisleson (”Norwegianity”) supports in an article written for Mick Arran’s impeachment blog […]

  3. […] will also reportedly urge the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission — something Mark Gisleson (”Norwegianity”) supports in an article written for Mick Arran’s impeachment blog “The […]


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