Why We Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission → Washingtons Blog
Why We Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission - Washingtons Blog

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why We Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission

What is the end goal of the battle against Wall Street fraudsters, government officials on the take, insane torturers and other other bad guys we are fighting against? Is it to see the perpetrators tried for their crimes, and then sentenced to life in jail? Or executed?

I think that's aiming too low. That's not going far enough.

Why? Because the people who have done these criminal acts will likely be replaced by some other corrupt, ruthless folks in the future.

Meet the new boss ... same as the old boss.

If all we do is punish the perpetrators, the spin will be it was just a "handful of bad apples". This is the same angle that was used on the grunts at Abu Ghraib, even though we now know that the orders for torture in Iraq came from the very top.

Further, many American military, intelligence, financial and political folks are afraid to expose what they know for fear that it will plunge the country into chaos. As someone wrote anonymously in response to an essay I wrote:

"I think this is the key question. What would happen if this great crime were exposed and justice meted out to the many involved? How would the system be rebuilt and who would keep the broken pieces together during the healing process? Without some thought along these lines, many people will see exposing [these crimes] as stepping into the abyss."
So unless we can provide a way to obtain truth and justice and save our country, many people with inside knowledge or who are in positions of power will hinder rather than help us.

Finally, even if the criminal masterminds are prosecuted, other countries will just blame it on the "crazy Americans". Who cares about other countries? Well, countries all over the world have problems with crime and corruption. So even if the American criminals are brought to justice, it is likely that the true lesson will not be learned by others.

A Different Strategy

There is an alternative strategy: a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

As you may recall, South Africa set up a truth and reconciliation commission. The Commission granted amnesty to the people who committed brutal acts of murder and torture under the apartheid regime. I wasn't in South Africa at the time, but my impression is that the Commission helped South Africa heal its incredibly deep wounds quickly. Not only did the victims have a chance to tell their stories, but the people who carried out these horrible acts had a chance to confess in public.

Would the same work with current crimes? Maybe so.

What if the perpetrators of the financial, military, torture, and other crimes and their assistants were granted amnesty from prosecution on the condition that they fully explain how and why the crimes happened? And anyone caught consciously lying would automatically go to jail? The following might occur:

• Lower-level conspirators would probably be more likely to come forward and tell what they know

• When they come forward, they are more likely to point their finger at the real masterminds

• Seeing a way to support the truth without destroying the country, others who have knowledge of the true facts -- even if they were not direct participants -- would be more likely to work publicly for truth and justice, instead of hindering us

• People in other countries will hear the true facts, so that the same types of crimes will be somewhat less likely to be used in their countries

Less is More

Does this sound like I'm being soft on the criminals? Well, initially a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would not grant amnesty to anyone who failed to fully confess. So let's say higher-level people did not admit their role in the crimes: they would be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.

Moreover, sometimes less is more.

Remember those Chinese finger cuffs you played with as a kid? If you tried to pull your finger out quickly, you got trapped ... but if you patiently pushed the ends towards the middle, you could free your finger.

Well, the current criminal situation we face in America today may be like Chinese finger cuffs. If we insist on jailing or executing all of the perpetrators, the resistance might be so great that we stay "trapped" in the current "cuff" of immobilization and resistance to the truth and magnitude of the crimes.

But if we are a little more patient and a bit more intelligent in our approach, we might be able to "free" the forces of truth and justice, and free ourselves from the nightmare in which we are currently trapped.

We need to be fierce and unrelenting in our push for truth and justice. And -- though it may seem paradoxical -- with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an end-game, I believe we might get there a lot quicker than if we demand the heads of all those involved in the crimes.

I am not talking about going easy on the bad guys. They've got to come totally clean or they get life in prison or worse. But I am talking about doing something that actually might work.

I'm also, frankly, talking about turning lemons into lemonade. Financial fraud and manipulation, starting the Iraq war based on false pretenses, torture, spying etc. are all acts of tremendous evil and deceit. But through the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we might be able to use these crimes to wake up America and the world to the secret history of what's been happening behind closed doors, the true nature of governments and manipulation, and the possibilities for a better society.

We might be able to confess our sins as a nation, and to -- perhaps for the first time ever -- truly start living up to the ideals expressed by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Note: Senator Leahy has proposed a truth and reconciliation commission, but it is limited to crimes under the Bush administration, and it does not include financial crimes. I believe that a T & R commission must investigate whoever broke the law - republicans or democrats - and include financial crimes, which are some of the worst crimes as far as their harm to the greatest number of people.


  1. I agree that this strategy is the fastest and least costly in money and blood to expose and end criminality.

    It also will create unexpected allies. It's a pity we have to look to fiction, but Ebeneezer Scrooge became a great man with a little compassion to understand his journey. Anakin Skywalker's great power turned to evil, and then he was the only one in position to end the core of evil. Professor Snape of the Harry Potter books, apparently evil, became such a hero that Harry named his son after him.

    These stories are powerful. People have thrived to them, loved them. Let's make this story realized on our planet. Please, all who read this, do everything in your power to advance Truth and Reconciliation. If you don't have a better idea to build a brighter future, take this one. If you have a better idea, now's the time to speak.

  2. I heartily concur. Let the whole world be the judge of all the crimes committed in America's name, whether they are Spanish prosecutors or Kenyan mothers.

    It is going to take miracles, but once the dam is finally broken, it is going to feel like hallelujah. I still believe, however, that the power brokers didn't establish this security apparatus just for show. They are preparing to use homeland security, the riot police, and the media to quell dissent and suppress possible insurrections.

    But I think a peaceful citizen movement is going to quietly emerge, there are already signs of it, and a T&R commission should be the end goal.

  3. My greatest concern would be that those in power appoint their own to the Truth and Reconciliation commission, thereby preventing any good that it could do.

    You don't find honest men in power, unless they have genuine reasons to retain their integrity through everything.

  4. This incredible idea that some sort of truth and a reconciliation commission (read as -yet another corrupted adjudicatory bureaucracy) can or will address anything concerning what is an inherent and permanent trait of human nature is a fraud worse than what has delivered the world's massively bloated and thieving populations -pushing and shoving each other in dangerously tight surroundings at the edge of this inviting, craggy precipice.

    The mindlessly inept altruism written like vomit twice here -makes me nauseous.

    These truth seekers (cum common morons) here think they are telling anyone anything when they say, 9-11 was an inside job? No shit? Really? An inside job? Could it really be?

    And was Mary not a virgin too? Say it ain't so!

    Let the squealing pigs fall. It will be good for the genome and our perspective on what is otherwise a wholly fabricated view of reality.

    After all folks, consciousness is a wholly shared and learned experience, and not much more either. Isn't it time we were at least temporarily awakened from this dreamland of reasonableness?

    There is nothing reasonable about any of it.

    Shit happens. Take a ticket and wait and see. You will eventually get on board this train wreck.

    Some people have a lot of nerve exclaiming THEIR shit doesn't stink, -or that they know someone whose shit doesn't stink.

    I'll bet you stinking Libertarians all voted for Barack Obama.

  5. If you are for T&R, leave comments here, on Prison Planet's post of this call to expose and end criminality, anywhere else you find it (and post those links here, please), and share this proposal. The revolution is upon us; you’re here to carry forth the American heritage to speak-up and take action for our ideals of truth, justice, love, and cooperative competition, true?

  6. Had the mainstream communist news networks bothered to vett thee smelly one they would have known he was bought and paid for by the banks lol they even knew it on the dummies underground but shouted the truth down they were so filled with hopenosis.

    George do you know about CAPCO?

    Customer Asset Protection Company, a little-known insurer whose members include Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs,, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, is becoming the focus of swirling questions as Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy filing puts it to the test.

    The concern is that Capco, created to protect big-money investors in the event of a catastrophic failure of a major brokerage firm, has no chance to coping with the Lehman bankruptcy, NYT's Zachery Kouwe writes.

    By some industry estimates reviewed by the insurance department, Capco could face nearly $11 billion in claims as a result of the Lehman bankruptcy but has only about $150 million with which to meet them, NYT writes.

    How do you say Ponzi, in insuranceeze?

    Capco was created in 2003 by Lehman and 13 other banks and brokerage companies as a kind of marketing tool. The pitch was that while Capco would not insure customers against investment losses, it would compensate them if the firms failed. Capco promises to provide virtually unlimited coverage above the $500,000 offered by the Securities Investors Protection Corporation.

    How risky was this insurance? Even AIG refused to write it.




  7. I am willing to stand with you and promote this initiative. I believe it is important WHO is behind such an initiative. Because this is a social movement. When Patrick Leahy frames a T&R committee it is guaranteed to be set up in such a way that the Beltway will control the message to "protect their interests from the voters" (http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2009/07/28/the-health-care-bill-dies/), in the words of Taibi. A true T&R commission as G. Washington and Carl Herman suggest is indeed necessary so as to provide a clear framework to address the massive usurpation of our government. Whether this attempt at doing something is useful or not depends on your philosophy. Don Robertson in the comment above expresses an existentialist resign at any attempt at positive action. From "Notes From Underground": "Now, I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and useless consolation that an intelligent man cannont become anything seriously, and it is only the fool who becomes anything." This is a pathology, and either you actively work to reclaim yourself and your ideals, or you let them die. I choose the former.

  8. "This is a pathology..."

    Yours and every other scientific thinker's are the pathology. It is a vast contagion of dispicable hubris given to modern witchdoctors.

    You can make life better, -is your vile and heinous assertion. How so? Science?

    Scientific solutions of every sort -without exception- give rise to problems ten times greater than the original problem -any such scientific solution was ever meant to address.

    Science is a fraud, whether it is the political science that pollutes our thoughts with notions of universal rights, or -physics and chemistry that pollutes our environment with every imaginable poison.

    There is a growing maelstrom at the vortex of all these ridiculous scientific solutions that have piled up like so much garbage littering both our landscape and a greatly debased future.

    Yours is an obsessive-compulsive belief that you (or some entity you support) have the genius to perform the impossible -necessary to change human nature -that keeps getting in the way of every scientific solution.

    Get over it. Even the doctors are just thieving knuckle-dragging apes.

    Genuis is a fiction.

    Both genius and educational excellence are foolish myths.

    They are dangerous and foolish myths. These are our modern day witchdoctors.

    If some god actually had the capacity to get to the bottom of all these heinous whirlwinds swirling about -destroying the future-, that mythical Ubermensch would find themselves hanging the geniuses first, and burning down the educational institutions second.

    But there is no such Ubermensch, -only those who are willing to continue down this insane path -all the while- praying for some empirical messiah to alleviate all the increasing suffering caused by their continued malfeasance.

    I too work for a better future. Mine however, unlike yours, is realistic.

    I am no genius.

    Pathology, indeed.

  9. Dear Don R.,
    I looked at some of your professional philosophical writing and agree with your advocacy of the Serenity Prayer:

    "God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference."

    You might be correct that upgrading the experience and expression of virtue in individual lives will be insufficient to affect the course of a nation. I agree that we can only make invitations for others to join us. My wife agrees with you. She says this planet is like a vast elementary school playground (she sculpted this analogy because I'm a teacher) with thousand of children, many of whom have organized vicious gangs, and about 5 adults. She looks me in the eye and says, "Go ahead. Organize them."

    Paradoxically, she also tells me that there’s nothing seemingly better to do than give our best good-faith attempt while enjoying our lives. Please tell me, Don, how is it that you are working for a better future? That’s really the point of these dialogues, yes?

  10. If nano-thermite is in the dust then it would be naive to think the Russians and Chinese haven't looked at samples.

  11. Dear Carl Herman-

    Your reading comprehension apparently leads to responses that make no sense whatsoever, and quite clearly do not merit a response.

    You say you looked at some of my "professional philosophical writings [...]"

    You have lost your blackhearted mind is what I think.

    You aren't just living in a fantasy world that has no relation to reality, -when you write you make up idiotic nonsense and then illicit a response?

    Such is the Internet. And such are the pitfalls of making any sort of effort -for anyone on the Internet.

    There are people just like you that troll the Internet just looking for somewhere to deposit your sort of mindless, incoherent rubbish.

    Please ignore my posts in the future. I trust you can understand that.

  12. Don R, The link you placed on your name is for an author of books on philosophy. I looked at one; that's the source of my reading and comments. The reason I took my time to do so is to encourage readers of this blog to consider Truth and Reconciliation as a policy proposal rather than stop their consideration from comments without constructive alternative. I'm encouraging people to take their most constructive option and run with it.

    You're welcome to write as you choose, as am I. I trust the readers' discernment to follow their hearts and minds in the direction most attractive to their self-expression.

  13. Carl Herman-

    I wrote a much more direct denunciation of your blabby machinations about your strange alternate reality, -but the wise author/editor of this increasingly Kafkaesque blog, who was more discerning than I, exercised his better judgment -by not publishing my vicious words.

    He might have reasoned, -Why prolong my agony with you?

    I concur with his discretionary call.

    What is it about "Please ignore my posts in the future," you do not understand?

    I understand you are some sort of a teacher of some unfortunate youth in Los Angeles. This however gives you no license to make such inane pronouncements, and claim some exemption from common courtesies everyone has a right to desire.

    Carl- Literally everything I have had the misfortune of reading that has come from your keyboard has had a pollutive effect upon the consciousness I now only share with you in what is now a sure and clearly stated protest.

    Cease! Desist!

    Your ability and perspective is incorrigible and unworthy of any further consideration. If ignorance is the problem, -you are surely part of it.

    If ignorance is your problem, take a deep breath, -and by going back and reading your own posts before you post them- admit you have much less to say than the amount of accuracy you demonstrate could possibly indicate.

    No mas!


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