Truth and Shaming Commission

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When looking around for something on Truth Commissions I found that for the most part they were called Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Like I said in the essay I posted on that, I was still gagging on the “R” word. I still gag on it today.

You’ll find Josh Marshall of TPM fame listed at the bottom of the Wiki entry on TRCs as having proposed one for BushCo. He also has an interesting TPMtv interview with Burt Neuborne of the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU. Burt calls for a “shaming” commission. Basically he says let’s out the torturers and those who ordered the torturing so that the whole world will know them for who and what they are. This is the part of a Truth Commission that is the heart of what I would like to see.

You can see Burt make his case at the 4:30 mark in this TPM clip: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c…

It sounds good to me. Personally, I’m not far enough along to go for the Reconciliation part even though I know that Mandela did it and Ghandi would do it. I do believe firmly in the Truth part. I’d like to see at least the top three tiers exposed to the public in all their lies and crimes against humanity. They need to stand naked before the Truth for all the world to see.

I resign myself to the reality that they’ll never see jail time even though they deserve it more than 95% of those incarcerated now. A good world-wide shunning and shaming will be sufficient. We can’t let the history of what happened these last eight years be lost, hidden or manipulated. The cost of letting this slide even a little will mean that our descendants will see this and worse happen in their lives. It has to stop somewhere. The conditions are right to do it now.

The Republicans will be a problem. The complicit Establishment Democrats will be an even worse problem. We need to not just keep their feet to the fire, we need to turn it up until they can’t ignore it anymore. We’ve got the Executive branch back. It’s time to steamroll the Legislative denizens.

Truth Now!

23 comments

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    • RUKind on December 7, 2008 at 6:46 am
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  1. Sometimes, even the President of the United States,

    Must have to stand naked…

  2. First, though, the US needs to close Gitmo, end the Military Commissions, restore habeas corpus, close the black sites, repatriate those who are being held unjustly, and give a full, federal court trials to everybody else in which their guilt will be proved or they will be released.  Then, and only after the US has dismantled the torture/rendition/combatant gulags and apparatus, then we need to find of the Truth in all of its sordid details.  And maybe then we don’t need shaming or reconciliation, maybe then we need trials for the multitude of crimes that have been committed.  After that, maybe I will be able to think about shame or reconciliation.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

  3. In a truth and reconcilliation commission, I don’t believe it is the People and the criminals that are to be reconciled, nor should it ever be seen as such. The reconcilliation involved is between the extremes in the political/moral continuum consisting of the People, in all their glorious differences.

    The truth portion of the process, if handled correctly, i.e., by explaining the offenses succinctly enough that there isn’t any doubt as to culpability, WILL open the door to legislative action that all can commit to, and possible prosecutions for those guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. The whole damm bunch of them IMO.

    • sharon on December 7, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    called after torture.  sponsored by harpers and nyu and i think ctr for constitutional responsibility, the panelists were scott horton, liz holtzman, jerry nadler, michael ratner, and bert neuborne.  bert spoke up in favor of a t&c commission.  scott thinks realistically we will end up with a commission of some sort.  ratner.wants.prosecution.  holtzman has moved on from impeachment and wants prosecution.  nadler supports both, but prefers a special prosecutor.  personally,  found neuborne’s argument to be the weakest.  i also do not think this country is in a comparable position to south africa.  srkp23 was also there and said she would blog about it.  hopefully, she’ll have a more detailed report done soon, because unfortunately, i have to get back to the school work.

    • dkmich on December 7, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    and they will never be held responsible or accountable for anything.  

    If Bush and the Democrats taught me anything these last eight years, it is that “they are special” and “we don’t matter”.  

  4. One can usually not inflict shame on another person for any lasting effect unless there is some inner admission of culpability. Indeed, to shame one who is not ready to admit that can easily result in defensiveness and blow back.

    Ultimately the shaming process is also fraught with self righteousness even when the cause is just. The most powerful transformation is when the one we wish would be ashamed arrives on their own at that point. And you can’t make psychopaths say sorry and mean it.

    • RUKind on December 7, 2008 at 11:16 pm
      Author

    and that would be lots of jail time and hefty fines for all concerned, then we may end up with nothing. From what I’ve observed the last two years, Pelosi, Hoyer and Reid will never “lead” on this. Obama has his hands full with an imploding economy, a resurgent AQ, two failed wars (three if you count drugs), a collapsing world economy and a planet in the middle of a sudden climate change. He’s got his priorities. I don’t think jail-time for Dick and George are going to be high on his list of places to spend his political capital.

    Personally, I’d throw them all in Gitmo and get around to trying them when things get settled down a bit. Maybe around six years from now would be about right.

    What if nothing is done to expose what really happened? History books three decades from now will tell a white-washed story. The Constitution will be a quaint paper relic in the Smithsonian with no meaning in daily life. Hell, it’s pretty much that way right now.

    Bottom-line, there’s not enough punishment that can be meted out to these criminals in one lifetime to balance the scales for what they’ve done. It’s out of our hands when you look at it that way. I just want to pass on the nation-of-laws-not-men concept and three separate but equal branches of government.

    One thing to keep in mind here: Bush, Cheney, et al were just window dressing and front men. They didn’t call the shots; they just carried out the plan.

    Satya.

  5. The way I see Truth & Reconciliation.

    Give immunity to the less culpable if they reveal the truth, all the truth, & nothing but the truth.

    With that, indict the war criminals.

    Close Gitmo & shut down all illegal torture & rendition sites.

    Back to the indicted, charged with crimes.

    If convicted, sentence them to the highest penalties allowed under the law,

    where they can reconcile with themselves, the horrors they unleashed on humanity.

    I do not believe that the global crises occurring now & into the future is any reason whatsoever, to put aside the laws of the land, even temporarily.

    No man is above the law, ask the millions incarcerated in the American gulags.

    Revenge is evil.

    Truth is for people of strength, to use to protect the weak.

  6. I believe that the whole “reconciliation” aspect of the “truth and reconciliation” concept presumes a model of human nature nowhere in evidence. As one of the characters says at the end of my play “Back To Rwanda” (she is quoting verbatim from the actual testimony of a survivor):

    “Sometimes, when I sit alone in a chair on my veranda, I imagine this possibility. One day in the future, a local man comes slowly up to me and says, ‘Bonjour, Francine, I have come to speak to you. I am the one who chopped your mama and your little sisters. I come to ask your forgiveness.’ Well, I cannot say anything  to  that man. A man may ask forgiveness if he maybe has one beer too many and then hits his wife. Then he may ask forgiveness, and perhaps he may even receive forgiveness if his wife is very stupid, or very understanding. But if he has worked at killing for one hundred days,  even on Sundays,  what hope of forgiveness does he have? And now everyone tells us  that we must simply go  back to living  together. We must go back to drawing water together at the same well,  to exchanging neighborly words, to selling grain to one another.

    (laughs bitterly, shakes her head)

    Madness. Madness!  Imagine telling  people in America who  lost a husband or a wife or a parent or a child or a lover on  September eleventh that they would simply have to live with the killers, that they would simply have to find a way to ‘get along’. Such a thing is not possible. We are only human beings, after all. It is too much to ask for us to ‘get along.’ Too much to ask.

    (stops reading, looks directly into the audience, glaring. Her voice is harsh, determined, vengeful.)

    There will be another genocide.”

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