Leahy’s un-American activities commission
By HANS A. VON SPAKOVSKY | 3/3/09 4:32 AM EST Text Size:
Hans A. von Spakovsky says Sen. Patrick Leahy’s “truth commission” is not needed to serve any legitimate government function.
Photo: John Shinkle
For more than 200 years, the reins of America’s leadership have been peacefully handed over from one administration to another, regardless of party affiliation, in part because we have never seriously indulged in criminalizing our political differences.
My Russian immigrant father, who fled Communist persecution, told me more than once that avoiding political persecutions and show trials was crucial to preserving our republican form of government. But Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are now proposing something that may well result in criminalizing policy differences.
Leahy has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on his proposal to convene a “truth commission” to conduct inquiries into Bush administration decisions on terrorist detainees, interrogation procedures and other practices. As precedent, Leahy cited the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was convened in South Africa to investigate the barbarous practice of apartheid.
That outrageous comparison falls flat. For one thing, Leahy’s “truth commission” is not needed to serve any legitimate government function. Effective government oversight has never required such commissions. Moreover, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) held hearings, under oath, over a 2½- year period looking into many of the same issues. His report, though predictably partisan, found no criminal violations.
Why, then, does Congress need a truth commission at this point in time? Only because the findings of previous investigations didn’t suit the far left’s tastes?
Nevertheless, those pushing for a truth commission have made it very clear that they have already determined the guilt of the Bush administration. The proposal, therefore, seems targeted to define political crimes in the spirit of, “We won, which means that the former regime is criminal.”
There is no other purpose to such a commission. If crimes were really committed, federal prosecutors can investigate and prosecute. If new legislation is required, Congress should implement it through the normal legislative process. The same is true if Congress wants to reorganize its intelligence committees or internal reporting structures. The commission cannot be used for impeachment purposes, so there is no real constitutional or legal reason for an “independent” commission.
The proposed truth commission thus more closely resembles the Moscow trials staged by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s than the legitimate inquiries in%
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