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Saturday, January 17, 2009
The Transfer

Tuesday will be a momentous day, as one president leaves office, and another assumes responsibility. As much as I've wished for a coup in the past eight years, I'm still kind of proud that we manage to make changes like these without bloodshed. We've done it this way longer than most.

The worst president in my lifetime will head back to Texas, which would be considered a punishment in many circles. But he will live richly, and his lackeys will cast a wide net over the oil-producing regions to raise money to build his presidential library. The first lady, in her younger days, was a librarian, but there is a great deal of doubt as to whether George W. Bush would even consider setting foot in a library, even one bearing his name. One may tempt him with a complete bound collection of Highlights magazine, but discerning the literary tastes of a man more Goofus than Gallant is not easy.

But what this monument to arrogance will not contain will be any hint of second-guessing, admission of mistake, and certainly evidence of responsibility taken for the damage done to the United States, in both the physical and mental senses, not to mention to the reputation of this nation as a country of laws. I hope the president will be buried in his Mausoleum of Thought, and right soon.

The Bush administration has an endless list of crimes for which it is responsible. It has been relatively easy for the ever-increasing throngs in this country who have turned their backs on the failed dreams of a bankrupt ideology to pin blame where it belongs. It took a great deal of looking the other way on the part of the press and citizenry of this nation to allow such outrages to be perpetrated in our names, but on Tuesday one thing changes:

Bush crimes become American crimes.

At noon Eastern time on Tuesday, the people of this country, and the Obama administration do not begin a new history, we merely continue one. Over the past few months, administration officials and others in a position to know have said in no uncertain terms that this country has tortured people. There is no longer any need to use euphemisms, the word is out there, and the word is "torture." We have unofficially admitted to officially sanctioned war crimes.

The new Attorney General, Eric Holder, when asked at his confirmation hearing whether or not waterboarding is torture, stated unequivocally that is. As the highest ranking law official in the United States, his responsibility is simply to apply the measure of the law to people in this country. No one is above it, no one is exempt. He will take his cues from the new president on what to do with the evidence that exists, and that which still requires investigation.

Barack Obama is reticent to start a cycle of the new gang going after the old gang, which, practically speaking is sensible. In this case, he simply has no choice but to allow the Justice Department to freely investigate the heinous crimes of the Bush administration. There are two simple reasons:

This country can not be allowed to sink to the depths of third-rate dictatorships, where whomever is in charge can make arbitrary decisions about what the law means, and whom it applies to.

If these crimes are not prosecuted, they will serve as precedent for the next time it happens.

And there is always a next time.

The United States has made a much-needed course correction, but it has not done anything to fix the damage done. I beg of you, President Obama, for the greater good of the American ideal, and that of justice, investigate, investigate, investigate. Anything less is tacit approval and continuation of the crimes of the Bush presidency. That is not change. And I cannot ever believe in it.

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posted at 5:34 PM

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