Daily Video

March 5, 2009

Lawmakers Push to Investigate Bush Administration

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is calling for a “truth commission” to investigate possible illegal actions by the Bush administration in their efforts to protect America from terrorists.

Senator Leahy said a commission can determine whether the former president and administration officials broke the law by using torture of terrorism suspects and warrantless wiretaps to fight terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

While Democrats on the committee supported the idea of an investigation, Republican Senators criticized the idea of looking into the deeds of the past administration.

NewsHour Congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports on the truth commission developments and fills in some of the details about the controversial Bush administration policies under question.


“Vice President Dick Cheney and others from the Bush administration continue to assert that their tactics, including torture, were appropriate and effective. I don’t think we should let only one side define history on such important questions.” – Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT

“So, it seems to me that we really ought to – we ought to follow a regular order here. You have a Department of Justice which is fully capable of doing an investigation. They’re not going to pull any punches on the prior administration.” – Sen. Arlen Specter R-PA

“My view is also that nobody is above the law and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen, but that, generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.” – President Barack Obama

Warm Up Questions

1. How did the government respond to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks?

2. What does the United States have checks and balances in government? How do different branches of the federal government provide a check on the others?

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think there should be a commission to investigate the Bush anti-terror policies? Why or why not?

2. President Obama has not endorsed the idea of an investigation. Why do you think he has not?

3. If administration officials broke the law in an effort to protect America, is that different from breaking the law under other circumstances? Why or why not?

4. Do you think members of the government should be held to the same legal standard as regular citizens? Are they?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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