President-Elect Obama’s advisors feared in 2008 that authorities would revolt and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisers.
University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., left, the sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama's administration, revealed the team's thinking on Sept. 2 in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall).
Edley sought to justify Obama's "look forward" policy on Bush-era lawbreaking that the president-elect announced on a TV talk show in January 2009.
But Edley's rationale implies that Obama and his team fear the military/national security forces that he is supposed be commanding.
It suggests also that Republicans have intimidated him right from the start of his presidency even though voters in 2008 rejected Republicans by the largest combined presidential-congressional mandate in recent U.S. history. Edley responded to our request for additional information by providing a description of the transition team's fears, which we present below as an exclusive email interview. Among his important points is that transition officials, not Obama, agreed that he faced the possibility of a "revolt."
As the nation approaches the third anniversary of Obama's election, many of his proposals have been thwarted by Republicans in Congress despite his cave-in on a wide variety of justice issues. His poll numbers have rapidly dropped this year, including results reported Sept. 6 by two polls putting his approval rating at 43 percent. To top it off, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who left office with a 13% approval rating in one national poll, is now staging a comeback. Cheney's return to the public arena includes his boasts during his book tour about the supposed legality of his never-investigated Bush-era initiatives. These have long been suspected as criminal under U.S. and international law, with potential execution as a precedent that the U.S. victors imposed on Japenese who authorized for water-boarding.
Longtime peace advocate Susan Harman, a Californian, elicited Edley's opinions during Q&A at the Boalt Hall forum, which was organized by the school's Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. Boalt Hall's faculty includes Professor John C. Yoo.
The former Justice Department attorney is nicknamed by war crimes critics as the "torture memo lawyer" for his legal justifications for interrogation techniques for those suspected of terror.
Also, Harman believed last week that Yoo advised the Miller Institute based on a still current listing on Boalt Hall's website [removed after publication of this blog]. Edley responded that he co-directs the institute with no special status for Yoo. Edley is a former White House aide and otherwise a major player at high levels in legal and political circles. He was so high-ranking on the transition team that Janet Napolitano, Arizona's governor and now Homeland Security secretary, was listed six spots below him.
After the forum, Harman described the prepared remarks by Boalt Hall speakers calling for accountability, human rights and the rule of law as being so "surreal" in such circumstances that, "I felt dizzy, and could barely speak" during Q&A.
But she did ask questions. Edley responded that Obama’s team feared that leadership in the U.S. armed forces, the CIA and NSA might “revolt” if the new Obama administration prosecuted war crimes by U.S. authorities and lower-ranking personnel. Also, Edley told Harman that his fellow decision-makers on Obama's team feared that a prosecution inquiry could lead to Republican efforts to thwart the Obama agenda in Congress.
Harman shared this account by email and Google Groups with our Justice Integrity Project and others.
Among recipients was David Swanson, an antiwar activist who since last January has been organizing a grassroots effort to replace Obama on the Democratic 2012 ticket. Swanson published, Insider Tells Why Obama Chose Not to Prosecute Torture, the only such blog or news report I've found of Edley's explanation of how Obama decided justice issues. Swanson's blog recalled that accountability under the law was a top concern of Obama supporters, as illustrated by the incoming administration's own 2008 poll of supporter suggestions. Here is Swanson's description of the Obama transition:
They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this: “Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”
Not only was the answer no, but it had to be inferred because President Change U. Wish refused to answer the question. I’ve always assumed I could guess why: a president wouldn’t want previous presidents subject to the rule of law, because then he would be too. Just this week I was suggesting that allowing the Justice Department to enforce laws against Cheney could save Obama’s electoral prospects at the risk of seeing Obama, too, land in prison some day. I have no doubt that this really is a factor. However, we now have an account from someone involved in the decision process way back when.
In similar fashion, I published on Huffington Post an Inauguration Day scoop: Why the President ‘Stepped Out’ During His Inaugural Parade. The front-page column extolled the new president's "ability to mix action with powerful symbolism" as he emerged from his limo to walk on foot and thereby honor national traditions exemplified by the National Archives, Navy Memorial and Justice Department, portrayed from left to right in my photo at right.
A finger points to the President and First Lady (in a yellow dress), with both more clearly visible at the far left in my photo below.
But that hopeful start gave way to a warning and then scandal. My next Huffington Post column, Probe the Past to Protect the Future, argued for the new administration and Congress to protect the nation's legal traditions by investigating suspected law-breaking under the Bush administration.That set the stage for an investigative report on how the Bush Justice Department framed Don Siegelman, the Democratic former governor of Alabama, on corruption charges with the connivance of the federal trial judge: Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company. The Obama Justice Department has abetted the frame-up every step of the way, creating a huge mystery about its motives and alarming former Obama supporters across the nation.
Justice Accountability As 2012 Campaign Issue
Since then, justice and accountability issues have become important wedge-issues (along with jobs, the economy, war policies and environment) in dividing Democratic factions. To take one example, more than 1,200 environmental protesters against Obama policies have recently been arrested outside the White House. That's the forerunner of much larger protest demonstrations planned during the next two months near the White House on a variety of issues. Congressional Black Caucus leader and former House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Michigan) has encouraged those seeking to protect Social Security and Medicare to aim their protests at the Obama White House since, in his view, they are the prime actors in setting the scene for bipartisan agreement on cuts.
The issue of accountability for Bush-era lawbreaking resonates especially strongly in some quarters, with crossover appeal beyond party lines. The above-mentioned question in 2008 by Bob Fertik received some 22,000 votes on the Obama transition website, some 3,000 more than the next highest vote-getter in the Obama team's poll.
Similarly, a list-serve run by Alabama Democrat Pam Miles that reaches tens of thousands of Democratic voters around the nation was abuzz last weekend with grassroots opposition to Obama on a variety of issues. Miles is a tireless advocate for Democratic causes and candidates. She started her list because of the Bush frame-up on corruption charges of her state's most recent Democratic governor, Don Siegelman.
One reader is the intrepid Alabama blogger Roger Shuler, who last week posted on his Legal Schnauzer site a citizen's guide to self-protection from anonymous threats of the kind frequently sent his way. Shuler's near-daily investigative commentaries include scores about the imprisonment of Mississippi trial attorney and Democratic donor Paul Minor on corruption charges, a victim of a cruel, Siegelman-style frame-up by the Bush administration. Over the weekend, Shuler posted this comment about the Obama administration's reaction to the many injustices in the legal system that Shuler has chronicled in the Deep South:
Obama's first betrayal came before he even took office, when he said he would "look forward, not backwards" on Bush-era crimes. That meant he was going to sell out the victims of torture and political prosecutions, the U.S. attorneys who were unlawfully fired, and so on. He's been selling out ever since. One of our political parties must believe in the rule of law; Republicans obviously do not, so it's up to Democrats.
Obama should be forced out and replaced with a Democrat who believes in the 14th Amendment protections of due process and equal protection. The erosion of those protections is what led to the Siegelman and Minor cases. Obama's refusal to examine such abuses indicates he is not fit to be president. He took an oath to uphold the constitution -- and he has not done it from day one. I, for one, will not go to the polls in November 2012 if he is the Democratic nominee and there is no viable third-party option.
As a reaction to such comments, some of the Miles list-serve readers continue to post pro-Obama comments and denounce the president's critics as fools and ingrates.
Another reaction was by Steve Walker, the Democratic National Committee Southern Regional Coordinator for the Obama re-election effort: He bluntly demanded this weekend that Miles remove him from her distribution list, saying he was not interested in postings by those who believe Obama has failed.
She promptly complied and sent an apology, explaining that she was under the impression that he'd asked to be included. Loyal also to her readers, she posted the correspondence as a news item. That enables bloggers and Democratic grassroots sympathizers around the nation to observe first-hand how the Obama re-election campaign, like most such efforts, apparently relies on top-down messaging to voters, with scant interest in meaningful feedback.
With this context, last Friday's Boalt Hall forum provides important new insight on why the White House and Justice Department have, in effect, ignored countless news reports and what must be hundreds of thousands of reader phone calls, letters and emails seeking accountability for Bush-era injustices.
As a routine precaution, our non-partisan Justice Integrity Project wrote Edley to confirm Susan Harman's quotations, which he did. She is portrayed at right. Also, we invited Edley, Yoo and the DNC's Walker to provide any further comment. An addendum below includes the comments we have received. For now, read Harman's account below of her comments during the audience Q&A segment at Boalt Hall's forum Sept. 2:
I said was overwhelmed by the surreality of Yoo being on the law faculty....when he was singlehandedly responsible for the three worst policies of the Bush Adm. They all burbled about academic freedom and the McCarthy era, and said it isn’t their job to prosecute him. Duh.
Then Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he’d been party to very high level discussions during Obama’s transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they’ve done anyhow).
Afterwards I told him that CIA friends confirmed that Obama would have been in danger, but I added that he bent over backwards to protect the criminals, and gave as an example the DoJ’s defense (state secrets) of Jeppesen (the rendition arm of Boeing) a few days after his inauguration.
He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.
“It must not," I said.
“It shouldn’t," he said, and walked off.
This is the Dean of the Berkeley School of Law.
Professor Yoo's Response
"I've no idea who this is, but you should ask the people who claim to have been party to this alleged conversation to confirm it, not me."
Dean Edley's Response
Thanks for the opportunity.
1. You can read about the Miller Institute at http://www.law.berkeley.edu/1194.htm. The faculty cochairs of it are me and Prof. David Caron, who also happens to be Honorary President of the American Society of International Law. I don't know why Ms. Harman thinks Professor Yoo has received a "promotion" or special position.
2. I didn't hear anyone burbling. I think the panelists, along with me, were perfectly cogent and articulate. I've also written about it to my students and alumni several times. Ms. Harman strongly disagrees. She did not specifically engage our points about academic freedom, including the McCarthy era precedents. Those examples are especially important to Californians for whom the ugliness of that era had special significance for Hollywood and state universities. Remember, too, that Berkeley was the home of the Free Speech Movement.
3. Ms. Harman accurately conveyed the substance of my comment about the Obama Transition. I'd add three points: I never discussed these matters with the President Elect; the summary offered by one of the senior national security folks was, "We don't want to engage in a witch hunt," to which I replied, "Neither do I, but I also care about the Rule of Law and, whether or not there ultimately are prosecutions, the question of whether laws were broken and where the lines should be drawn deserve to be aired"; that discussion as a whole was brief.
4. My point about politics is simple and non-controversial to people trained in law. I was not referring to politics trumping Law in the sense of President Nixon thinking he could do anything he wanted with respect to the Watergate scandal. I was referring to what every first year law student learns about prosecutorial discretion and the political accountability of prosecutors, which the "system" assumes will be a check on prosecutorial abuses more often than a source of them.
5. A frustrating thing to me about these discussions is that non-academics don't seem particularly to appreciate the fragility and importance of academic freedom. A university isn't equipped or competent to do a factual investigation of what took place at DOJ or in secret White House meetings. Nor should it make judgments about what faculty do outside of their professorial duties when there is no evident impermissible impact on their teaching. (For Professor Yoo, there is none.) The right forum investigating and punishing alleged crimes is in the criminal justice system, not a research university. Our job is already tough enough.
6. Finally, another frustrating thing is that advocates are often fierce in their belief that they know what the law is, and they know when someone else's view is extreme. Your typical law professor is, I think, far more humble. We tend to see multiple sides to important issues, and lots of gray. Even if we are convinced of something, we work hard to understand the counterarguments, just to be sure. If there aren't any, then MAYBE one could characterize the other position as extreme. My guess is that Professor Yoo's constitutional theories and statutory interpretation would win at least three votes among current justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. I don't like it, but that's my reading of the caselaw. Does 3 out of 9 make it extreme? If so, then a lot of my heroes are or were "extreme."
Editor's Note: Edley, dean of the law school since 2004, has written about the Yoo appointment here and earlier here.
Boalt Hall Faculty Profiles (Excerpted)
Christopher Edley, Jr. is Boalt Hall Dean, Co-Director of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy and holds the Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Chair. He joined Boalt Hall as dean and professor of law in 2004, after 23 years as a professor at Harvard Law School. He earned a law degree and a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University, where he served as an editor and officer of the Harvard Law Review. Edley's academic work is primarily in the areas of civil rights and administrative law. He has taught federalism, budget policy, Defense Department procurement law, national security law, and environmental law. Edley was co-founder of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, a renowned multidisciplinary research and policy think tank focused on issues of racial justice.
John Yoo received his B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from Harvard University. Between college and law school, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal. He then clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit. Professor Yoo joined the Boalt faculty in 1993, then clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as general counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-96. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the...He is the author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2005), War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror (Grove/Atlantic 2006), and Crisis and Command: The History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush (Kaplan 2010).
Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law
The Miller Institute is named in tribute to the Honorable G. William Miller (1925 - 2006) and his wife Ariadna Miller. A Boalt alum, the Hon. Miller served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Carter and as the 11th Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He was deeply committed to enabling work that would promote the Rule of Law as a means to ensure that nations share a set of values without sacrificing their individual cultures, and was the guiding force behind the founding of the Miller Institute at Boalt. The mission goals are: Promote the rule of law, Produce innovative research; and Pioneer policy reform.
Events: September 11: Ten Years Later
The Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law will be presenting a panel reflecting on the tenth anniversary of September 11. The discussion will focus on the future: What is the likely future of terrorism and, given what we have learned over the past decade, what is our way forward? The discussion will be moderated by Dean Christopher Edley and panelists will include Maria Echaveste, Saira Mohamed, Paul Schwartz, and Jonathan Simon.
Commentary on Don Siegelman Column
Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman: What Happened to President Obama's Moral Compass? Roger Shuler, Sept. 14, 2011. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, the most high-profile victim of a Bush-era political prosecution, had a strong reaction to recent news that advisors to Barack Obama feared a coup if the administration pursued prosecutions for war crimes. ”Clearly if one's moral compass is locked in, the decision is easy to make that the United States does not tolerate torture as a means of interrogation.”
Reports on Boalt Hall 9/11 Panel
Legal Schnauzer, Obama Advisors Feared a Coup if the Administration Prosecuted War Crimes, Roger Shuler, Sept. 7, 2011. Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning. Christopher Edley Jr., law dean at the University of California and a high-ranking member of the Obama transition team, made the revelation during a 9/11 forum at his law school on September 2. Andrew Kreig, director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, reports that Edley's comments were in response to questions from Susan Harman, a long-time California peace advocate.
My FireDogLake, Insider Tells Why Obama Chose Not to Prosecute Torture, David Swanson, Sept. 2, 2011. Two Years Ago Obama Decided Not to Prosecute Torturers If you can think back all the way to January 2009, back when wars were ending, Guantanamo was closing, the Pentagon was getting oversight, employees were going to have free choice, the rich would start paying taxes, the air would be getting cleaner, and so forth, you’ll recall that the Obama transition team was acting super populist and high-tech. They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this: “Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?” Not only was the answer no, but it had to be inferred because President Change U. Wish refused to answer the question....However, we now have an account from someone involved in the decision process way back when.
San Francisco Chronicle / Politics Blog, Obama ally says torture probe could have prompted CIA 'revolt,' Bob Egelko, Sept. 10, 2011. President Obama upset a lot of supporters soon after taking office when he declared that it was time to look forward, not backward, so there would be no investigation of Bush administration officials who allegedly approved illegal wiretapping, kidnapping and torture. Now a former member of Obama's transition team has told a Bay Area audience that one reason for the decision was concern that a wide-ranging probe could infuriate leaders of the military and the CIA.
Justice Integrity Project Treatments
Justice Integrity Project, Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 7, 2011. President-Elect Obama’s advisors feared in 2008 that authorities would oust him in a coup and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisors. University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., he sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama's administration, revealed the team's thinking on Sept. 2 in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall).
Balkinization, Dean Edley on Professor Yoo, Deborah Pearlstein, Aug. 20, 2009. Controversy continues to surround John Yoo and the memos he wrote while a Justice Department lawyer that were used as the legal basis for torture in U.S. interrogation operations. Under the circumstances, I thought it appropriate to reprint here an email recently circulated to UC Berkeley faculty, administration and students by Dean Christopher Edley of Berkeley Law School. (Happy to hat tip the sources who passed the email along, but I'll defer for now in case they'd prefer to remain anonymous.) Dean Edley is responding to substantial public protests surrounding Professor Yoo's return to his tenured professorship in law at Berkeley. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say I am grateful to have had Chris Edley as a professor when I was a law student. Far more to the point, however, I thought the email was thoughtful, important, and worth consideration. It's reprinted in its entirety below.
FireDogLake, Yoo, Edley and the Mortal Sins o Academia, Peterr, April 15, 2008. While serving in the Department of Justice, Professor John Yoo wrote memoranda that officials used as the legal basis for policies concerning detention and interrogation techniques in our efforts to combat terrorism. Both the subject and his reasoning are controversial, leading the New York Times (editorial, April 4), the National Lawyers’ Guild, and hundreds of individuals from around the world to criticize or at least question Professor Yoo’s continuing employment at UC Berkeley School of Law. As dean, but speaking only for myself, I offer the following explanation, although with no expectation that it will be completely satisfying to anyone.
Below are significant articles for this two-week period on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.
Civil Rights Reflections on 9/11 and War Culture
Salon Unclaimed Territory, Endless War and the culture of unrestrained power, Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 6, 2011. Notwithstanding this somber, collective 9/11 anniversary ritual descending upon us, the reality is that the nation's political and media elite learned no lessons from that attack. The mere utterance of the word Terrorism (which now means little more than: violence or extremism by Muslims in opposition to American or Israeli actions and interests) is -- at least for America's political and media class -- as potent in justifying wars, civil liberties assaults, and massive military spending as it was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And worship of the American military and all that it does -- and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) -- is the closest thing America has to a national religion.
Salon Unclaimed Territory, The DOJ's escalating criminalization of speech, Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 4, 2011. Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening. The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with "providing material support" to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)). What is the "material support" he allegedly gave? He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about "jihad" from LeT's leader, and -- according to the FBI's Affidavit -- "a number of terrorist logos."
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Top CIA official: Obama "changed virtually nothing," Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 1, 2011. PBS's Frontline is airing an examination of "Top Secret America" on September 6. The show includes a rare and lengthy interview with 34-year-CIA-veteran John Rizzo, who is described as "the most influential lawyer in CIA history." Here is one quote they include from Rizzo: With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing....
Democrats.com, Cheney's Kettle Logic, David Swanson, Sept. 1, 2011. On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC on Thursday, the former Vice President claimed that the intelligence used to invade Iraq had been sound and accurate; the faulty intelligence was all Bill Clinton's fault; the invasion didn't do any damage but rather it was the Iraqis who damaged Iraq; and any invasion causes horrific things to happen, that just comes with the territory. The Justice Department answers to Obama, and Obama is protecting Cheney because Obama is continuing similar crimes and abuses. If Obama were to allow Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce our laws against Dick Cheney, Obama might very well save his own electoral prospects. But he would put himself at risk of future prosecution. The question of whether we will have the rule of law becomes the question of whether Obama wants to trade four years of power for decades in prison. That's not how it is supposed to work.
Cost of Wars
Center for Defense Information, What Has Been the Cost of the Post-9/11 Wars? Winslow Wheeler, Sept. 6, 2011. If all the wars were to end today without a single penny appropriated for military operations, etc. for the upcoming fiscal year (2012), the federal costs already incurred would be from $3.2 to $3.9 trillion. If the wars were to run their course -- as currently (and optimistically) estimated by the Congressional Budget Office -- the costs (together with additional interest payments for the required deficit spending out to the year 2020) would come to an additional $1.45 trillion.
Oversight & Accountability
Justice Integrity Project, CIA Torture Investigator Plays Powerful But Mysterious Role, July 2, 2011. John Durham is the career federal prosecutor who made news June 30 when the Justice Department acted on his recommendation to narrow a probe of CIA mistreatment of detainees from 101 to two cases. Our Justice Integrity Project revealed last July that a federal appeals court found in 2008 serious misconduct by a team of federal prosecutors supervised by Durham. Thus, the 2008 Bush and then Obama administration appointments of Durham and his prominent Connecticut colleague, Nora Dannehy, to lead major national investigations of misconduct by other federal officials smacks of politics and whitewash.
Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago.
Huffington Post, Probe the Past to Protect the Future, Andrew Kreig, March 4, 2009, Huffington Post Wrong-doers and their apologists insist that the country should look forward for the betterment of all, and that any future problems will be dealt with fairly. Nonsense. As always, justice starts by a review of the evidence. "Sunshine is the best disinfectant," Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said. But pest control is useful too. Either way, strong measures are required to build public confidence for legitimate initiatives.
Huffington Post, Why the President ‘Stepped Out’ During His Inaugural Parade, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 21, 2009. Illustrating President Obama's ability to mix action with powerful symbolism, the public saw him suddenly climb from his armored limo during his Inaugural Parade and greet enthusiastic crowds assembled outside the National Archives and Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue.
New York Times, Obama Reluctant to Look Into Bush Programs, David Johnston and Charlie Savage, Jan. 11, 2009. President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. But Mr. Obama also said prosecutions would proceed if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken. Mr. Obama added that he also had “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”