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Leahy: Congress Will Do Truth Commission with or without POTUS

As you may have seen last night, one of the more challenging questions for Obama came from the HuffPo’s Sam Stein, who asked Obama if he supported a Truth Commission.

Sam’s still busy with this story, today reporting that Leahy says Congress will go forward even without the support of Obama.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and White House Chief Counsel Greg Craig discussed on Tuesday the Senator’s proposal to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate potential crimes of the Bush administration.

"I went over some of the parameters of it and they were well aware at the White House of what I’m talking about," Leahy told the Huffington Post. "And we just agreed to talk further."


Leahy did add an important ripple to the story in the interview with the Huffington Post: Congress will likely proceed with investigations regardless of whether Obama is on board.

"Oh yeah," Leahy said when asked if he would go forward without Obama’s endorsement. "I think the Senate and the Congress as whole has an oversight responsibility that has to be carried out here anyway. Now it is much easier with the cooperation of the administration. A lot of things with the subpoenas I issued the past few years, we got a lot of information but a lot of it was held back."


"What I would much rather see is to see us working together," said Leahy. "We have a common interest, both the Congress and the administration to get this thing worked out … In this instance, this is so important that our common interest is to get the truth out."

And in related news, Russ Feingold has joined the 22 other Members of Congress who have voiced their support for such a Commission.

I applaud Senator Leahy’s leadership in proposing the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. Getting all the facts out about what happened over the last eight years is a crucial part of restoring the rule of law. As President Obama and Attorney General Holder have said, nobody is above the law. There needs to be accountability for wrongdoing by the Bush Administration, including the illegal warrantless wiretapping and interrogation programs. We cannot simply sweep these assaults on the rule of law under the rug. [my emphasis]

I’m guessing Russ will not only support this Commission, but he’ll be one of the first reminding AG Holder that "nobody is above the law."

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.