Thursday, January 29, 2009

The case against prosecuting Bush & co.

In a recent Boston Phoenix article, Harvey Silverglate, a prominent Boston-area lawyer, tackles the problem of whether the crimes of the Bush Administration should be prosecuted. (I saw this thanks to Dan Kennedy and his Media Nation blog.)

Silverglate doesn't argue that the administration is innocent of wrongdoing. In fact, he deplores the so-called "torture memos" that seemed to give legal clearance to human rights abuses. But from a legal point of view, Silverglate warns against pursuing indictments against members of the administration, because he thinks a jury couldn't be persuaded to convict.

I'm not a lawyer, and I respect Silverglate's professional opinion. But I agree with one of the comments on the article, that he has the cart before the horse. How can we know whether a jury would convict until an investigation is begun? This is not a fishing expedition. Aside from the issue of torture and war, there is prima facie evidence that crimes were committed in the area of illegal wiretapping and the politicization of the Justice Department.

Yes, the Obama Administration has many other tasks before it, but this doesn't mean the crimes of the last eight years should just be forgotten.