In a significant speech delivered today at Georgetown University, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy endorsed the call of House Judiciary Chair John Conyers for a blue-ribbon panel to investigate criminal misconduct that occurred in the Bush Administration’s Justice Department. In the last two weeks, the House and Senate Democratic leadership appear to have united behind the measure. From Leahy’s remarks:
Many Americans feel we need to get to the bottom of what went wrong. I agree. We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page. We’ll work with the Obama administration to fix those parts of our government that went off course. The office of legal counsel to the Justice Department is one of those institutions that was hijacked. It must be restored. There has to be review and revision of the office’s legal work of the past eight years. So much of that work was kept secret.
…What is the best course for bringing a reckoning for the actions of the past eight years on everything from torture to illegal wiretapping? There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past. Indeed, during the nomination hearing of Eric Holder some of my fellow senators on the other side of the aisle tried to extract a devil’s bargain from him in exchange for their votes; a commitment that he would not prosecute for anything that happened on President Bush’s watch. That is a pledge no prosecutor should give. And Eric Holder did not give it. But because he did not, it accounts for some of the votes against him. That is not the example we should give in a country that believes in the rule of law and believes no one is above the law.