This mantra was highlighted again recently when the top question voted up by citizens using Obama’s www.Change.gov website was the following:
Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor (ideally Patrick Fitzgerald) to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?The Obama team’s response was to point out that this question had already been addressed, and to refer to this previous comment by Joe Biden:
The questions of whether or not a criminal act has been committed or a very, very, very bad judgment has been engaged in is — is something the Justice Department decides,” Mr. Biden said, adding that he was not ruling prosecution in or out. “Barack Obama and I are — President-elect Obama and I are not sitting thinking about the past. We’re focusing on the future.Obama himself was later asked the same question by George Stephanopoulos, and gave a similar answer:
We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.But, as Arianna points out, looking forward and looking backward are not mutually exclusive! In fact, one of the widely accepted principals in making positive changes for the future is the act of making amends as a step toward repairing the damage caused by negative past behavior. Every variation of a twelve step program starts with recognition and understanding of the destructive behavior, and positive action to make things right. From Wikipedia:
As summarized by the American Psychological Association, the process involves the following:I’m all for the idea of turning the page on the bad behavior of our government officials. However, this does not mean we should sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. Part of the healing process necessary to look forward and focus on the future will come from examining exactly what happened, and demonstrating that our new code of behavior involves enforcing the laws, no matter who broke them and when.
• admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
• recognizing a greater power that can give strength;
• examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
• making amends for these errors;
• learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
• helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
[Update] Here's Jonathan Turley on Countdown, saying it even better: