Conyers Calls for Special Prosecutor on Alleged Bush Crimes

160px-john_conyersholderericThe chairman of the House Judiciary Committee today called for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to probe potential abuses of power under the Bush administration. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has called upon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to look into alleged Bush crimes. Holder has continued a rather transparent effort to block or curtail any investigation to prevent the prosecution of Bush officials for the torture and surveillance programs.

Conyers called on Holder “to appoint a special counsel to review the Bush administration abuses of power and misconduct. A criminal probe—he’s got to do that.” Conyers added that “All the breadcrumbs, as we call them, go right to the White House.”

Conyers has long struggled under limitations imposed by Democratic leadership, including reportedly Speaker Nancy Pelosi who did not want to see investigations into torture or surveillance — programs that Democrats knew about. Conyers himself has been viewed as a defender of civil liberties and privately favoring an investigation for years.

225px-richard_cheney_2005_official_portrait225px-george-w-bushHolder needs to stop trying to find a way to game the system and control the outcome. He needs to appoint a special prosecutor without restrictions to look into criminal acts ordered by the Administration, particularly in the areas of torture and surveillance. No one expects the prosecution of low-level CIA officials. It is the mid-level and high-level officials –including President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others — who would be the most obvious targets of such an investigation.

For years, people have asked me what they can do to push for accountability for war crimes. Now, you have your opportunity. Write and call your members in the House and the Senate to demand that they publicly call for a special prosecution without limitations to investigate the torture and surveillance programs. Demand more than just a letter to you. Members need to follow Conyers and join a public effort to demand a special prosecutor. People can also press their local newspapers for editorials in support of this call for a special prosecutor.

With his speech at the National Press Club, Conyers has broken free of the reprehensible effort in Congress to cover-up possible war crimes and, in so doing, has protected his own legacy in Congress as a civil libertarian.

For the story, click here.

30 thoughts on “Conyers Calls for Special Prosecutor on Alleged Bush Crimes

  1. “Now, you have your opportunity. Write and call your members in the House and the Senate to demand that they publicly call for a special prosecution without limitations to investigate the torture and surveillance programs.”

    **************

    Good advice. Sadly my Congressman is Eric Cantor. Prepare for deaf ears!

    I do love the line, “All the breadcrumbs, as we call them, go right to the White House.” An apt analogy for the fairy tale that the previous Administration sold all of us.

  2. Mespo,
    I enjoyed the breadcrumb line as well. Conyers influence may be helpful in swaying Holder to honor his oath. My Congressman is Donald Manzullo who was/is a lockstep supporter of Bush and Cheney and the rest of their felons.

  3. Rafflaw I didn’t know they had any republicans left in the Chicago area other than Mark Kirk. My family lives in Jan Schakowsky’s district. I am far more liberal that they are and I am stuck in Pete Sessions district.

  4. Call.

    Write.

    E-mail.

    From the state level up, every representative you have. And not just them either. Stay on their staff too. Most officials have functionaries with public contact information. Make EVERYONE’S job more difficult by taking their time.

    Be a total pain in the ass DEMANDING a criminal investigation of Bush Co. Do not take no for an answer without informing them that a “no” means you as a citizen will do everything you can to have THEM removed from office next cycle. Then follow through. Make sure everyone you speak to locally knows that their representatives are not working for We the People and must be removed from office.

    Now is the time to sweat so we all don’t have to bleed later.

  5. This is a very good summary of the situation from the ACLU. They also have a campaign going to force prosecutions:

    “The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

    “The evidence is abundantly clear that the crime of torture was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. Making low-level officials take the fall while the big fish get away is not how we do justice in America. In America, no one is above the law, regardless of rank or position. A narrow investigation that fails from the outset to follow the facts where they lead would only perpetuate the Bush administration’s false claim that torture was the result of a ‘few bad apples,’ rather than confront the reality that it was a widespread, systemic and orchestrated policy set at the highest levels of government.

    “For the CIA to claim that this has all been ‘dealt with before’ is both disingenuous and disturbing when, to date – despite the mountains of evidence of high-level involvement – the highest ranking official to be prosecuted for abuse was a Lieutenant Colonel. Turning away from the facts does not make them go away.

    “Attorney General Holder should enforce the law even-handedly and objectively, and not let political calculations stand in the way. Those who authorized, legally justified and carried out this dark spot on our nation’s history must be held accountable.”

    http://www.aclu.org/

    Buddha,

    That you feel very badly and may snap at people during this time is totally understandable. We are with you in this devestating situation.

  6. I am being being to believe that when I can fly that this will happen. I would say when I could get HIGH but hey, who am I to judge.

  7. The problem again with Speacial Prosecutor,Immunity for witnesses,and what ever is found out we will really never know.

    Can anyone say”SCOOTER LIBBY”?

  8. Swarthmore Mom,
    McHenry County is very Republican and it has been for years. There are a few more progressives here than there was when we moved here in 1990.
    Contact anyone who may have influence on Holder and/or Obama. Maybe even a call to Rahm and tell him to shut his mouth and let people follow the law.

  9. I can’t think of a more pointless endeavor than contacting my representative on this issue, who happens to be that most embarrassing piece of political garbage, Steve King.

    However, I can, and will, give a nudge to both Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley.

  10. Thanks JT!

    I, of course, have been advising and urging the same ‘local’ action for months now. It always sounds ‘better’ coming from you AND it’s August, again…
    Best,
    Patty C

    “For years, people have asked me what they can do to push for accountability for war crimes. Now, you have your opportunity. Write and call your members in the House and the Senate to demand that they publicly call for a special prosecution without limitations to investigate the torture and surveillance programs. Demand more than just a letter to you. Members need to follow Conyers and join a public effort to demand a special prosecutor. People can also press their local newspapers for editorials in support of this call for a special prosecutor…”

  11. Mespo727272

    You won the lottery. Eric Cantor…High Five! Up High! DAWG!

    Mr. Cantor’s middle name is IVAN which kind of sounds Russian so he can’t run for President being a foreigner and all…Still don’t know how he beat Ben “Cooter” Jones and the “General Lee”! LOL

    Tammy Baldwin, here.

  12. Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond and Clair McCaskill here. I still e-mail and call them to encourage them to do the right thing but it’s an exercise in futility. Still, I’m sure they need a good laugh every now and then too.

  13. Conyers should shut his mouth and worry that his wife does not implicate him in her bribery trail. Man this is turning into one of the most worthless admin. that I have every seen, and I have been around since Truman. And all you left wing lunatics have not even scratched the surface on the wrongs our President has done in his short ,but beyond the pale Admin. And for you lovers of the aclu well I can’t help you when the country turns to socialism.

  14. Republican President Bush committed war crimes, torture crimes, illegally surveilled American citizens, and lied US into a war.

    The evidence is overwhelming and should clearly be investigated to the fullest extent.

    It’s disappointing that right wing authoritarians like “Phil J” not only passively accepted the Republicans abuse of authority but even now try to distract from it by trying to change the subject.

    Obama’s greatest failure are in not repudiating and investigating the corrupt Republican President Bush administration.

  15. My congressman is the only Republican congressman from Oregon, Greg Walden, but I will make my feelings know to my two Senators though that is other half of the Congress. I have e-mailed President Obama and Eric Holder on their e-mail sites many times, especially about war crimes, but I have never received an answer from either.

    Unfortunately, there is no longer an independent counsel law, but if AG Holder did appoint a special prosecutor, I would at least hope that it would be someone from outside the government, someone like you, Prof. Turley or Glen Greenwald (said tongue-in-cheekily). We all know what happened the last time with Patrick Fitzgerald. Asking the DoJ to investigate is a little like the fox and chicken coop scenario.

  16. naschkatze: “…would at least hope that it would be someone from outside the government, someone like you, Prof. Turley or Glen Greenwald (said tongue-in-cheekily).”
    ——–

    Judge Judy. Srsly.

    I would like to see John Woo or Alberto Gonzales or Dick Himself try to double-talk Judge Judy.

  17. I never thought I would say this, kudos to Rep. Conyers. We need to bear in mind that this is an initial investigation to discover facts and it must not be portrayed as a partisan witch-hunt.

  18. FFLEO,

    If we get an actual investigation that goes where it should, we’ll have to call it a bi-partisan witch hunt!!! :)

  19. I vote for appointing this man as special prosecutor. If you get the chance, read this and listen to the interview. There is an astronomical amount of our money at stake (potentially 23.7 trillion, currently 3 trillion). His willingness to be independent is amazing. I wish journalists were as independent as this man. (from Glenn Greenwald)

    “Neil Barofsky, the chief watchdog over the $700 billion TARP bank bailout program, is one of those rare creatures in Washington: he takes very seriously his responsibilities of independent oversight and accountability. A career prosecutor, Barofsky is a life-long Democrat who donated money to Obama’s presidential campaign. But ever since he was appointed to head the oversight office created by Congress when it enacted TARP — an office designed to ensure transparency and accountability at the Treasury Department and in the banking industry — he has repeatedly clashed with Obama’s Treasury officials over their lack of transparency in how the trillions of dollars in TARP-related funds are being sent to and used by the banking industry. So seriously does Barofsky take his oversight duties that, as a Washington Post profile noted in March, “he refuses to eat with senior administration officials in the [Treasury] building’s executive dining room to maintain his independence.”

    Barofksy’s clashes with administration officials have intensified of late. Last week, he issued a report documenting that the actual amount of taxpayer money theoretically put at risk in the bank bailout — once Federal Reserve, FDIC and other programs are counted — is $23.7 trillion, not the widely cited figure of $700 billion, a report that prompted attacks from the White House and Treasury on his credibility.”

    Neil Barofsky, the chief watchdog over the $700 billion TARP bank bailout program, is one of those rare creatures in Washington: he takes very seriously his responsibilities of independent oversight and accountability. A career prosecutor, Barofsky is a life-long Democrat who donated money to Obama’s presidential campaign. But ever since he was appointed to head the oversight office created by Congress when it enacted TARP — an office designed to ensure transparency and accountability at the Treasury Department and in the banking industry — he has repeatedly clashed with Obama’s Treasury officials over their lack of transparency in how the trillions of dollars in TARP-related funds are being sent to and used by the banking industry. So seriously does Barofsky take his oversight duties that, as a Washington Post profile noted in March, “he refuses to eat with senior administration officials in the [Treasury] building’s executive dining room to maintain his independence.”

    Barofksy’s clashes with administration officials have intensified of late. Last week, he issued a report documenting that the actual amount of taxpayer money theoretically put at risk in the bank bailout — once Federal Reserve, FDIC and other programs are counted — is $23.7 trillion, not the widely cited figure of $700 billion, a report that prompted attacks from the White House and Treasury on his credibility. Separately, Barofsky has continuously

  20. Phil J,
    If you have been around since Truman, your comment is way out of line to say it nicely. I guess you forgot about the Nixon years or LBJ’s disaster in Vietnam, or Reagan sending us into huge deficits and dealing with terrorists and then there is the 8 years under George Bush, II. How can you claim that 6 months of Obama is worse than any of those prior Presidents that I mentioned?
    Jill,
    This Barofsky guy would be a good investigator, but we are putting the cart before the horse. Let’s have Holder announce an investigation of any sort first. Besides, my guess is that Holder will name a current US Attorney as the investigating attorney. If that happens, I nominate Patrick Fitzgerald. If it is someone out of the administration and not in the Justice Department, I think someone already nominated my choice, Prof. Turley.

  21. rafflaw,

    I agree with your choice! If we do get an SP I want someone like Barofsky, whomever she or he may be. He shows real intergrity and if you listen to the tape at the end, he seems completely sincere when he says what he is doing is his way of serving our country. What he’s doing takes courage and I admire him for it. We need more people like him in our govt.

  22. Jill, you may already be familiar with this book, but I am reading “Getting Away with Torture,” an extremely well documented and well written treatment of the Bush-Cheney policies. The author is Christopher Pyle, a professor of constitutional law at Mount Holyoke. It provides a virtual blueprint for a prosecutor. You might want to check it out.

  23. Some may be interested in reading this article:

    “The NSA Is Still Listening to You
    Bush went away, but domestic surveillance overreach didn’t. It’s now the law, and the ACLU is fighting back

    by James Bamford

    This summer, on a remote stretch of desert in central Utah, the National Security Agency will begin work on a massive, 1 million-square-foot data warehouse. Costing more than $1.5 billion, the highly secret facility is designed to house upward of trillions of intercepted phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet searches and other communications intercepted by the agency as part of its expansive eavesdropping operations. The NSA is also completing work on another data warehouse, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome.

    The need for such extraordinary data storage capacity stems in part from the Bush administration’s decision to open the NSA’s surveillance floodgates following the 9/11 attacks. According to a recently released Inspectors General report, some of the NSA’s operations — such as spying on American citizens without warrants — were so questionable, if not illegal, that they nearly caused the resignations of the most senior officials of both the FBI and the Justice Department.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/22-4

  24. I keep wondering when the full truth will be known.

    Americans are being psychologically harassed in communities across this county and it would appear that there may be government involvement. The mere mention of these harassment campaigns raises eyebrows and complainants are dismissed as “delusional.” Some who report these crimes (surreptitious home entries, vandalism of property, persistent surveillance) may have been a little crazy in the first place and others have probably been tipped in the direction of “crazy”, but some are as sane as the next guy (which, I’ll allow, may not be saying much).

    I’m a mental health professional — I first heard about this from patients and kept an open mind. I’ve seen it myself now, but it’s so incredibly unbelievable that it continues.

    How it’s going to be exposed and stopped is quite beyond me. That it must be stopped is a certainty.

    (Thank you, Jill, for the link to the James Bamford article.)

  25. It’s about freekin time someone at the higher levels of the legislature started skwaking about the need for these investigations, and hopefully prosecutions, to proceed.

    I am absolutely flabergasted that the Obama administration is blindsiding this effort, I can’t really figure out why.

    Bush, Cheney, Yoo, et al, NEED to go to prison, they are the most serious attempt at a coup in this country for long time. Who knows what they would have done with a little more insanity.

    Scary sht.

  26. Our war crimes are being taken up by the UN. What does this say aobut the United States, the DOJ and the rule of law?

    “NEW YORK- Charging that the U.S. government was complicit in the forced disappearance of an influential Muslim scholar four years ago, human rights groups in the U.S., the U.K., and Switzerland have asked the U.N. to investigate.

    In a letter to the U.N., the organisations say Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, a Spanish citizen, was arrested by Pakistani officials and handed over to U.S. officials in Oct. 2005 and has not been heard from since.

    The letter was sent to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Human Rights While Countering Terrorism, Martin Scheinin, and the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. It was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the London-based legal charity Reprieve, and Alkarama in Geneva.

    In Jun. 2009, in response to an ACLU request for information about Nassar’s whereabouts, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said it could “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records” concerning Nassar.

    Steven M. Watt, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program, told IPS, “Mr. Nassar’s wife and children just want to know if he is still alive and where he is.” He said that “Requests for information about his forced disappearance, nearly four years ago, have been ignored by the U.S. government, and his family now has no other choice but to turn to the international community for assistance in their quest.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/08/07-0

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