by:Dan DeWalt, Charlotte Dennet, John Nirenberg and Martha Hennessy
On March 30, Senator Patrick Leahy gave five Vermonters a half hour of his time. We were: Martha Hennessy, a peace activist from Weathersfield, John Nirenberg, a Brattleboro man who walked from Boston to Washington D.C. in 2007 to call for impeachment, Charlotte Dennett from Cambridge, who ran for Attorney General in Vermont in 2008 on a pledge to prosecute Bush, Kurt Daims, the author of the Brattleboro indictment resolution passed in 2008 and Dan DeWalt of Newfane, who has been active promoting impeachment and accountability. We were there to discuss the Senator's idea for a “truth commission” to investigate criminality by the Bush/Cheney administration, and our ideas about why only prosecutions of the culpable will give us a chance to prevent a recurrence of these crimes and abuses of the Constitution.
America, due to Bush/Cheney policy, has added torture to our standard operating procedure, even if it is now held in abeyance by the Obama administration. That morally reprehensible act, while now out of favor, could easily recur if there is no Congressional objection and no one has been held accountable.
We pointed out that we are a nation with a well established judicial system and it should be used as it was intended to be, or the American people will become forever estranged from the Congress and our ideals.
And we noted that commissions are usually inadequate when it comes to fully understanding events and their origins. All too often unanswered questions remain and then they seldom succeed in holding the guilty accountable. Indeed, often the culprits are free to pursue careers in which they can try to rehabilitate their image and continue to mold public opinion.
“We come here not out of anger, DeWalt began – and Leahy interrupted by saying, "I don’t blame you if you are angry" – “but out of concern" DeWalt continued, " for the future of our country. We are deeply concerned about dangers to our democracy, with the trend going to executive power and damaging our constitution. We are a nation of laws. If we have a system of justice, why not let it take its course? It seems to many Americans that the rich and powerful don’t have the same system of justice, and they’re getting away with torture, murder, fraud, and Ponzi schemes.” This contrasts starkly with the plight of the poor and the powerless who are daily paying the price of a failing system.
DeWalt handed him a copy of a complaint that will be filed by Jackson Committee of the Massachusetts School of Law. Leahy said he was aware of that. he acknowledged that a judge in Spain was doing something similar.
The Senator didn't mince his words when it came to condemning some of the actions of Bush's “justice” department, but his response was more muted on the question of just how to effectively redress the damage.