Is Truth and Reconciliation Dead in the Water?

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Yesterday, the website Consortium News published an article by Charlotte Dennett pouring some cold water on the hope many liberals have that Congress will form a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-era torture and other instances of wrongdoing. Dennett reported that, at a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary committee chairman had said the idea was dead in the water. “[I]t’s not going to happen,” Leahy reportedly said.

Today, Leahy released a statement addressing that article: “In contrast to reports circulating on the Internet, Leahy said he is continuing to explore the proposal.”

“I am not interested in a panel comprised of partisans intent on advancing partisan conclusions,” Leahy said. “I regret that Senate Republicans have approached this matter to date as partisans. That was not my intent or focus. Indeed, it will take bipartisan support in order to move this forward. I continue to talk about this prospect with others in Congress, and with outside groups and experts. I continue to call on Republicans to recognize that this is not about partisan politics. It is about being honest with ourselves as a country. We need to move forward together.”

That leaves open the questions of Senate math–will any Republicans support the formation of such a commission?–and whether the committee will exercise any of its other options. As Daphne Eviatar wrote in the Washington Independent “Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee could still initiate a comprehensive inquiry into the role of the Justice Department in potentially illegal conduct under the Bush administration…. There’s no need for a truth commission to get the investigative ball rolling.”

I’ll follow up with Dennett and will let you know what I find.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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