Governments are expressions of their bureaucracies. That’s one reason Mr. Cheney worked so diligently to corrupt his. They institute commissions to bury the truth and defract blame generally or onto those who don’t deserve it. Sometimes the process slips up and uncomfortable facts emerge for the powers that be. Politicians then do their best to ignore them. On occasion, as in South Africa, they are a resource for reconciliation. The magic is in the details.
Prosecutions may come and go. They may confront insuperable obstacles from presidents protecting their Article in the Constitution and no one else’s. Intentionally, convictions require proof beyond reasonable doubt. That’s a concept Karl Rove has spent a career undermining by his logical reversals and his efforts to turn fact into opinion and vice versa.
Scott Horton’s, Our Voyage to Brobdingnag makes the case for why we also need a truth commission to rebuild our democracy after the perfect storm that was George Bush. General Taguba would seem a prime candidate to be on it and to head its operations.
Whether such a commission achieves anything productive depends on who’s on it, then its rules of engagement, including subpoena power, then its budget and time frame. That’s up to Congress, as it was in investigating Ronald Reagan’s Iran Contra scandal against the wishes of a sitting president.
Iran Contra involved a single program and the corruption of portions of the State and Defense Departments, the CIA, and a handful of officials in the White House basement. Mr. Bush had greater ambitions. Responding to them requires greater effort. As we’ve long said on this blog, investigating such things is not criminalizing politics. It’s criminalizing crime instead of rewarding it.