March 4, 2009
Dear Senator Leahy,
We felt compelled to write to you regarding your recent call for the formation
of a “Truth Commission”. According to your press comments, this
Commission is supposed to look at the following:
* the politicization of prosecution in the Justice Department
* the wiretapping of U.S. citizens
* the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq
* the use of torture at Guantánamo and so-called black sites abroad
These are serious allegations of criminal activity by certain members of the
Bush Administration. While we applaud your initiative in looking into these
matters, we feel this approach is wrong.
As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you already have the responsibility
and legal authority to investigate matters relating to federal criminal law
without having to form a special commission. You are also bound by your oath
of office to support and uphold the Constitution by ensuring that those who
govern also abide by the rule of law.
Furthermore, a “Truth Commission” will not fix the real problems
that our country faces, nor will it guarantee that we will get to the truth.
The 9/11 Commission, which you want to model your commission after, is a perfect
example of that flawed process.
The 9/11 Commission was mandated to follow the facts surrounding the events
of September 11, 2001 to wherever they might lead and make national security
recommendations based upon those facts. Sadly, prior to even beginning their
investigation, like you, the 9/11 Commissioners agreed amongst themselves that
their role was to fact find, not fault find.
This decision resulted in individuals not being held accountable for their
specific failures. These people were shown to be incompetent in the 9/11 Commission’s
Final Report but were left in their positions, or worse, promoted. No one should
be allowed to make this compromise on behalf of the American people. How can
any agency be deemed fixed or reformed if the people working there are inept?
How can anyone feel safer?
At the 9/11 Commission hearings, little actual evidence was ever produced.
Many individuals were not sworn in, critical witnesses were either not called
to testify or were permitted to dictate the parameters of their own questioning,
pertinent questions were omitted and there was little follow-up. Whistleblower
testimony was suppressed or avoided all together. The National Security Agency,
an intelligence agency that is responsible for the collection and analysis of
foreign communications and foreign intelligence, was barely investigated at
With the narrative of the 9/11 Commission’s final report predetermined
and with the preexisting intention to never hold anyone accountable in place,
the 9/11 Commission was doomed to fail as a real investigation. The end result
of the 9/11 Commission’s work was that some of the recommendations that
they produced were in fact, based on distortions and omissions. Since their
mandate of a complete accounting was ignored, the recommendations were incomplete
There was clearly no desire on the part of Congress to force the Commission
to meet its legislative mandate. Accordingly, there were no repercussions for
the fact that the investigation and its recommendations were incomplete. It
could be surmised that holding no one accountable was more important than uncovering
and disclosing the truth. This could compromise the future safety of American
citizens. Why then would you want to model another Commission after it? Why
would you want another Commission at all?
Senator Leahy, in light of the fact that the 9/11 Commission’s worst
offense was not fully investigating the September 11th attacks, completing that
investigation should also be included on your list of matters to be examined.
America’s founding fathers, prescient in their fears of unrestrained
power, created three separate but equal branches of government. They had hoped
to maintain and enforce the limits of the Executive Branch.
The Bush Administration was allowed to circumvent too many Constitutional restrictions
effectively undermining America’s system of justice, our nation’s
integrity and commitment to the rule of law. The Bush Administration’s
seizing of power proves the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
The days of no fault government must end; and where there is clear criminal
activity, people must be prosecuted. The law must be upheld without exception
before we can be assured of the safety of the nation. These duties cannot be
ignored for the sake of expediency.
Senator Leahy, our nation needs you to investigate and, if warranted, refer
the cases for criminal prosecution in transparent trials. We do not need another
meaningless commission resulting in no accountability at the taxpayers’
expense. Show all Americans that you have the courage to uphold the law, bring
accountability to those who abuse their positions of power and prevent such
abuses from happening again.
The November 2008 elections proved that Americans want the rule of law restored
for those in Washington who are elected to represent us. You, Senator Leahy,
are in the position to lead the way and work toward the change we were promised.
September 11th Advocates
Lorie Van Auken