Leahy calls for Truth Commission

here.

I have mixed feelings about this proposed approach.  People should never be allowed to break laws and not answer for it.  If no laws were broken, let Bush et al be exonerated.  But if laws were broken and nothing is done, what assurance is there that the same things won’t happen again.  None.  Just trust in government.  Blind faith.  On the other hand, maybe we do just need to find out what happened.  I think I’m afraid that as soon as I find out what was actually happening, I will immediately regret exchanging immunity for the truth.  It just seems like another principle being sacrificed at the fantastical altar of emergency.  We keep allowing things to happen which should not happen because the severity of the moment requires it.  Bailouts, immunities, torture, on and on and on: all retroactively justified by the necessity of emergency.  There has to be a line somewhere.  Otherwise our laws are meaningless; the constitution is meaningless.

“In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”  This was said by Thomas Jefferson in his proposal of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.

Update: Jack Balkin does a good job discussing and convincing here.  Many of my concerns still stand, however.  His is a very pragmatic outlook.  Maybe I am being driven by bitterness.  I find it hard to accept that people serve jail time for smoking marijuana but no jail time is served by those who may have intentionally tortured knowing it was illegal.  Yes, it may be hard to prosecute such crimes, but is that a reason not to?  If you are pragmatic, it is.  If you are a hardline believer in the letter of the law, it is not.  I’m not sure which philosophy I adhere to.

Update 2: Glenn Greenwald responds, indirectly, to Jack Balkin et al.

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