Nick Juliano – The Raw Story

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) says he won’t cease his efforts to hold the president and his administration accountable for their alleged abuses of power just because George W. Bush will be returning to his Texas ranch come January.

Kucinich says he wants Congress to create a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to examine what really went on within the Bush White House in the aftermath of 9/11 and the lead up to the Iraq war. He says only an independent body with truth-seeking as its goal — rather than “fake political unity” — can repair divisions that have emerged in an increasingly polarized nation.

During a brief press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, and in an interview with RAW STORY afterward, Kucinich said he would introduce legislation to create a commission before Congress finishes its current session at the end of this month. He said his proposal would be modeled on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that followed periods of upheaval in other countries, such as the end of Apartheid in South Africa or to consider genocide in Rwanda.

He said the Bush administration’s transgressions rose to the level of other countries that have seen the need for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

“We’ve seen a dramatic erosion of our civil liberties and disruption of cherished constitutional provisions. Over a million innocent Iraqis have been killed. There’s an attempt to grab the national resources of Iraq,” he said, referring to attempts to exploit the country’s oil reserves.

“So actually, this kind of a process would lend itself to a spirit which all Americans are looking for. … ‘How do we reunite our nation?'” he continued. “But you can’t do it just through some fake political unity. The only way you can do it is to is to seek the truth, and we haven’t really done that.”

Kucinich said the commission he would propose should have the ability to subpoena testimony and documents and also retain the ability to recommend prosecution of any possible crimes it uncovers. Like Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of the past, though, it also should be able to grant blanket amnesty to anyone who agreed to provide a full accounting of their actions while in the White House. He said the work of previous bodies like the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission also would be examined by his new commission.

Congress and congressional committees already have many of the powers Kucinich described, such as the ability to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony through the threat of prosecution and grant amnesty. The problem is it’s been hesitant in exercising them. (Before Kucinich arrived at the press conference, activists lamented Congress’s failure to hold Bush administration officials like Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in inherent contempt — i.e. ordering the Capitol Police to lock them up until they agree to comply with subpoenas demanding their testimony.)

“Congress has had the opportunity to act, and it’s failed to do so,” Kucinich acknowledged to RAW STORY. “But Congress can still create a process where the work can be done, and that’s what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will do.”