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Holding Bush accountable
Editorial: Holding Bush accountable
The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
September 9, 2005
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, appropriate attention is being given to the question of whether President Bush and his aides will be held accountable for his plodding and disengaged response to an enormous natural disaster and the chaos that followed.
But as members of Congress return to Washington next week, they must remain conscious that the immediate disaster is not the only one that demands an accounting from this administration.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, understands better than most the necessity of maintaining a dual focus on hurricane-related issues and the lingering questions raised by presidential statements and actions before the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
When he appears Saturday at Fighting Bob Fest in Baraboo, the Michigan Democrat will remind Wisconsinites that it is the job of the legislative branch to examine and - where necessary - punish the misdeeds of the executive branch.
For months, Conyers has led efforts to launch a full investigation of the so-called Downing Street memos - notes from a 2002 meeting between U.S. and British intelligence officials that include a top British intelligence officer's observation that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of invading Iraq by U.S. officials.
In Great Britain and much of the rest of the world, the Downing Street memos, which were revealed earlier this year, have been treated as a smoking gun pointing to the very real prospect that members of the Bush administration deliberately misstated intelligence data. In the United States, however, the issues raised by the memos have been given scant attention by media that defer far too much to the president.
In the face of stonewalling by the White House, Conyers and other members of the House have proposed a resolution demanding disclosure of administration documents relating to issues raised by the memo. The resolution has attracted 65 co-sponsors, including three other Bob Fest speakers: Vermont independent Bernie Sanders and Wisconsin Democrats Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore.
Notably, a key Republican, Iowa Rep. Jim Leach, recently signed on as a co-sponsor.
That is as it should be. The task of holding the president accountable must be the work not of one individual or one party, but of the legislative branch that the Founding Fathers established to serve as a check and a balance upon executive excess.
Ultimately, however, one member of the legislative branch - John Conyers - has taken the lead. We are proud to welcome him to Wisconsin.