Jan 22, 2009

A Nation of Laws or Men?

It is very good to see the listing of executive orders and memorandum that have begun to accumulate after the first two days in office for the new President.The deadline to close Guantanamo, the lobbyist regulations, FOIA access, halt to Bush's last-minute EPA actions, and most especially, the reversal of Executive order 13233 of November 1, 2001, which essentially reinstates the National Archives regulations regarding Presidential Papers passed by Reagan. This should mean, I hope, that further information about Iran-Contra may come to light, even though the key criminals in that slimy scheme were pardoned by Bush 41 immediately upon taking office. Of note is that Obama's executive order specifically includes the Vice Presidential papers (something left out of Reagan's original orders.) Of course, the original law provides a wait of 12 years after any President leaves office.

Here's the White House web site with all the orders and memoranda.

Eric Holder's nomination is apparently being held up over the question of torture--apparently in a last-ditch effort by the Republicans (John Cornyn and Arlen Spector)--to get him to back off on proceeding with investigation of war crimes. I don't think they have to worry. I will be very surprised, despite Harry Reid saying that he is funding an investigation by Carl Levin into torture, if the investigation gets off the ground. I know there is sentiment here for 'moving on" but I truly feel that this is a watershed moment for whether or not we are "a nation of laws not men."

Some commentator--I can't remember who--pointed the night before the Inauguration, that President Obama's credibility would be weakened in his future trips abroad when he asserts that we were back to being a nation of laws, if we had failed to carry out our obligations under treaties fully approved by the Senate and one domestic law. These clearly impose on us the obligation to investigate, prosecute, and punish those who order and/or perform torture.

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