From the New America Foundation blog:
During Jane Mayer’s event Tuesday at New America promoting her penetrating new book, The Dark Side, a topic came up during the Q & A that I’d like to expand on–the possibility of establishing a truth commission for the Bush administration’s transgressions. The idea has been getting some play recently, both from Nick Kristof in the New York Times and scattered across some blogs…The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is generally held up as the model for such bodies, which don’t have formal judicial power but instead serve primarily as instruments for the discovery of past wrongdoings by governments.
So far, when each instance of misconduct has been revealed — from the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes and waterboarding to extraordinary renditions and habeas-corpus-free detention of prisoners at Guantanamo — individual solutions have been sought and some individual actors have been put forth to be held accountable. But this approach is piecemeal at best and does not get at the connective tissue and the systematization of abuses.
A truth commission, however, would provide a more holistic approach to the violations that have been committed or ordered by individuals and agencies within the government. A commission would serve as an opportunity to look back and expose where the administration started to go wrong in its decision-making process; allow those whose rights have been violated to be heard; and give Americans on the whole a chance to cleanse our national conscience–and our image abroad.