In the first press conference of his presidency, U.S. President Obama seemed to reserve judgment on Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s calls for a “truth commission” to probe the Bush administration’s potential abuses. While Obama stressed that his “general orientation is to say let’s get it right moving forward,” he also did not rule out potential prosecutions or commissions. “My view is also that nobody is above the law. And if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, [those] people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen,” Obama said.
Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proposed a truth commission along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in post-apartheid South Africa. He has suggested that such a commission would provide an intermediate response between criminal prosecution of those responsible for abuses and no response at all. “People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts,” Leahy said.
Obama also reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to the Geneva Conventions, the tradition of rule-of-law, and to a no-torture policy.
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