Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Well, I got that one wrong

The other day, I made a prediction that President Bush would come out with a raft of pardons for people in his administration in an attempt to protect them from investigations by either the Congress or the new administration.

Unless something comes out in the next few days, I was wrong. President Bush issued no pardons at all, and only issued commutations for two Border Patrol agents who were convicted of shooting a suspected smuggler and then covering up their actions.

Here's another prediction: In the next 6 to 12 months, Speaker Pelosi or Senate Leader Reid will open wide ranging investigations of just about everything the Bush administration did that they find objectionable. Subjects that come to mind will be the intelligence used in the run-up to the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay and the other prisoner/interrogation issues, use of non-competed military contracts (Halliburton), the firing of U.S. attorneys, and the intelligence gathering programs that tapped into the communications of terrorists.

What President Bush and his assistants will have going for them, at least in a couple of things, are that the courts have already ruled on a couple of things, and they have cleaned up things that have gone wrong.

The FISA court recently ruled that the NSA surveillance program was legal.

The perpetrators, at least those on ground, who mistreated prisoners have been disciplined.

The bad intelligence from the pre-war period will be hard to explain, but intelligence is not a game of certainties, and the administration tried to act like it was. They will now take their lumps for that.

The U.S. attornies scandal will go away quickly. These government prosecutors serve at the discretion of the president, so it would be hard for Congress to argue that President Bush was wrong to let them go. I expect that President Obama will let some or all of the currently serving U.S. attornies go.

All of this won't stop congressional investigations from happening, but at least it'll give some cover from the political fallout.

I hope I'm wrong. The country doesn't need all of this when we're still fighting a war and trying to bring the economy out of a downturn.

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