Leahy proposes 'truth commission' probe of Bush era
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday February 9, 2009

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In a Monday forum at Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed the Congress form a "truth and reconciliation commission" to seek out alleged Bush administration "misdeeds."

"There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past," Leahy said in a report by Huffington Post. "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 the votes -- a commitment that he would not make... 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."

"We need to come to a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past," the Vermont Democrat said. "Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuing of what happened."

"The truth commission should have subpoena power and witnesses would not face charges except if they commit perjury," reported the Wall St. Journal.

"Leahy said he wanted to find a 'middle ground to find the truth' and thus positioned himself in the center of the ongoing debate among Democrats about whether to investigate the Bush administrationís decisions," reported CQ Politics. "President Obama has signaled he doesnít necessarily want to delve into the actions of his predecessor while Leahyís counterpart in the House, John Conyers Jr. , D-Mich., has introduced legislation (HR 104) to create a more narrowly focused commission to examine presidential war powers and civil liberties that could lead to prosecutions."

"Sen. Patrick Leahy said Monday the commission's primary goal would be to learn the truth rather than prosecute former officials," reported the Associated Press.

"Leahy said the commission could be modeled after a similar panel that investigated apartheid in South Africa."

"One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth commission. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind," he said.

"People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts," said Leahy, a frequent Bush critic.

"Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. Sometimes the best way to move forward is getting to the truth, finding out what happened, so we can make sure it does not happen again," he said.

Leahy claimed he had not yet discussed his proposed commission with President Obama.

This video is from CNN.com, broadcast Feb 9, 2009.

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With wire reports.