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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Justice Before Politics

Floyd Abrams, Bob Barr and Thomas Pickering have an editorial in The Washington Post calling for an independant bi-partisan panel to investigate the issue of abuse of terrorist suspects. They tout the Sept. 11th commission as an example of a success at this sort of endeavor. I am far more skeptical of the results of this commission than they are, I think that it resulted in more Washington bureaucracy instead of more safety for Americans. The nature of such a commission is such that while they have no actual political power, they end up with tremendous influence. The members of these commissions are neither elected, nor accountable for their results. While I don't think the Sept. 11th commision members were bad people, I do think that this tremendous power without accountability is a dangerous way to do business. The title of their editorial is somewhat ironic as well: "Justice Before Politics." I don't know that the Sept. 11th commission was less driven by politics than it was by honestly trying to ensure the safety of all Americans. The temptation for political grandstanding in such an atmosphere is tremendous, and it would be even greater in detainee abuse investigation. However, I do think that we need to look into this problem, and find ways to reduce the chance of abuse happening. We are a moral nation, and it is when we fail to live up to our standards that we can most conclusively prove that by taking an honest look at ourselves and trying to improve. So, while I am not convinced that the bi-partisan commission is the panacea that Abrams, Barr and Pickering claim it to be, it may well be the best choice out of list of bad choices. Certainly I don't know that the Senate or the House could investigate any better, and while an executive investigation could theoretically do the job, it is certainly possible that a pressure to cover-up the truth could exist, and even if it did not, the belief that it had would be wide-spread.


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