The work should begin immediately. Members of the House and Senate should assert that theirs is a co-equal branch of government. This need not be an affront to Obama. It is about identifying and condemning the excesses of the Bush era.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, has offered an ideal tool for accomplishing this: an Executive Accountability Act (which she proposed in the last Congress and should offer in the new one) confirming the sense of Congress that the new president should make a clear break with Bush/Cheney era excesses.
Baldwin's House resolution suggests that Obama and his administration should:
1. Affirm our nation's commitment to upholding the Constitution.
2. Affirm that it is the sole legal right of Congress to declare war.
3. Criminalize lying to Congress and the American people about the reasons for going to war.
4. Restore the writ of habeas corpus as an essential principle.
5. Ensure that torture and rendition are uniformly prohibited under U.S. law.
6. Immediately close Guantanamo Bay.
7. Ensure that Americans can bring claims against their government.
8. Take affirmative steps to protect documents from the Bush/Cheney administration and publicly reaffirm that the Office of the Vice President is part of the executive branch.
9. Review potential abuses of the presidential pardon process.
10. Reform the use of presidential signing statements.
11. Investigate the alleged crimes of Bush/Cheney administration officials and hold them accountable.
12. Hold accountable Bush/Cheney officials who failed or fail to comply with congressional subpoenas by supporting Congress' right to the information it needs to perform its oversight functions.
13. Hold accountable Bush/Cheney officials who disclosed the identity of any covert intelligence agent.
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