Truth and Reconciliation


If we can’t have war crimes tribunals, at least let us have this:

Getting a sense of what the nation doesn’t know about the Bush administration’s secrets is not only daunting, it’s hard to know where to start. In the soon-to-be-published December issue of the Washington Monthly, editor Charles Homans has a must-read cover story: “Last Secrets of the Bush Administration: How to find out what we still don’t know.”

The thought of revisiting this history after living through it for eight years is exhausting, and both President Barack Obama and Congress will have every political reason to just move on. But we can’t — it’s too important. Fortunately, an accounting of the Bush years is a less daunting prospect than it seems from the outset. If the new president and leaders on Capitol Hill act shrewdly, they can pull it off while successfully navigating the political realities and expectations they now face. A few key actions will take us much of the distance between what we know and what we need to know.

That these “few key actions” seem necessary is an understatement. Homans’ prescription — treat the Naval Observatory like a crime scene; quickly declassify the Bush administration’s deliberations and policy implementations (especially from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel); and use commissions instead of subpoenas — offers a realistic blueprint to policy makers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Take a look.

Part of me is hoping against hope that the Hague decides to do what we don’t have the political stomach for, and will indict Bush et al for their war crimes and human rights violations. We can’t just pretend the last eight years didn’t happen. We used to hang people for less than what Bush and his buffoons did. Turning a blind eye is out of the question.

At least some sort of commission will lance the abcess. We need at least that much if we’re going to heal as a nation and regain our international health.