Continuing the discussion: endorse the special prosecutor?

It’s been a spirited discussion so far on whether or not Get FISA Right should endorse the Bob Fertik’s idea Appoint a Special Prosecutor for the Crimes of the Bush Administration in the Ideas for Change in America competition.  Currently, our Get FISA Right, repeal the PATRIOT Act, and restore our civil liberties is in 7th with a little over 6000 votes, and Bob’s is in 21st at 2136, so the decision could have a big impact on which ideas make it into the top 10.  We’ll be voting on this starting on Monday (details TBD) and so I wanted to continue the discussion in a fresh thread.

Something to keep in mind from a strategy perspective is that an effort spearheaded by Ari Melber propelled Bob’s special prosecutor question to the top of’s recent Open for Questions; we should expect something similar here.   Wiretapping had significant support as well (#2, #9, and #10 in National Security) without any promotion … but nobody seems to have covered it.  For whatever reason the “special prosecutor” angle seems to be hotter right now than “policy and legislative changes”.  So right now, despite the relative difference in our votes, the special prosecutor idea probably has as good a chance to make it into the top 10 as ours.

There were a lot of good opinions on both sides about whether or not we should endorse the special prosecutor idea.  I’ve also had discussions with various people in email, on the phone, and in-person, and overall it seems to me that opinions continue to be split: roughly 1/3 “we should endorse”, 1/3 “I personally support a special prosecutor but Get FISA Right shouldn’t endorse”, and  1/3 “I don’t support a special prosecutor at this time”.  The discussions are changing minds in all directions, though, and a lot of people haven’t weighted in yet, so that’s not necessarily an indication of how the vote will come out.  I’ve invited Bob to do a guest-post here to present his case.

So now’s a great time to reread the earlier thread.  Which points do you think are especially compelling?  Has your opinion changed?  Are there aspects we’ve overlooked so far?  Please let others know what you’re thinking!

And if you haven’t already voted for our idea, please do!


* The comments in Once again Open for Questions: the pilot continues have more details on this.  Ideally we will benefit from these effects in the competition as well: the progressive bloggers like digby, Open Left, and Daily Kos who support a special prosecutor care about FISA and the PATRIOT Act as well.  We shall see …


10 Responses to Continuing the discussion: endorse the special prosecutor?

  1. Harry Waisbren says:

    I can’t wait to vote on this, as I think it is absolutely essential that we equate looking to the future with finding out what is occurring at present and has occurred in the past. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, and we have already found this out unequivocally with the current mess following the accountability-free watergate crimes (which were really not that long ago).

    I posted a longer comment in the other thread (here:, but I think the necessity for us to go this route certainly warranted another comment!

  2. […] Get FISA Right Please say no to telecom immunity and get FISA right in 2009 « Continuing the discussion: endorse the special prosecutor? […]

  3. Don Brake says:

    There should most assuredly be a special prosecutor assigned to shed light on the scope, and breadth, of the criminal wrongdoing that is, and thankfully soon will be, the Bush administration. There is NO WAY POSSIBLE we as a society can allow it to go unchecked or unchallenged, or we quickly lose any ability to call ourselves a moral, just republic.

  4. Frank says:

    See Obama this Sunday am:

    He makes it very clear he wants to separate the past from future and
    move forward which continues to leave us divided on how to pursue GFR.

  5. jonpincus says:

    Thanks for the link, Frank. From Sam Stein’s Obama Leaves Door Open To Investigating Bush, But Wants To “Look Forward”:

    “I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is that he’s the people’s lawyer. Eric Holder’s been nominated,” said Obama. “His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people, not be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So ultimately, he’s going to be making some calls. But my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”

    One more thing that is worth noting. As pointed out by Think Progress, Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s choice to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, has said that the next president should avoid “any temptation to simply move on.” Here is the relevant quote:

    We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation’s past transgressions and reject Bush’s corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation’s honor be restored without full disclosure.

  6. While Ms. Johnsen’s comments are spot on, her boss’s (Holder) boss’s (Obama) comments are not. Obama sets up a false dichotomy between “getting things right in the future” and “looking at what we got wrong in the past”; the future *I’m* thinking about — and that he should be thinking about — is when he’s out of office; what disincentive will there be for future Cheneys to resume what they’ve learned from this one’s playbook? Yoo and Addington may well feel so vindicated as to hope for future federal positions whether in the judicial, executive or legislative branch.

    Obama is threatening to be an epic disappointment on this score and the rule of law generally — ironic, if that’s the word for it, for a constitutional law “expert.”

  7. I have to admit I don’t know how to formally “vote” within the GFR debate on this, but consider me strongly for endorsing the special prosecutor idea.

  8. jon says:

    We’ll kick off a formal voting thread (probably one on the blog and one on Facebook) with instructions. We also will need to decide the threshold for approval: majority or 60% super-majority? Coming soon …

  9. […] Prosecutor idea? By jonpincus We’ve had two good discussion threads so far (here and here) on whether or not Get FISA Right should endorse the Bob Fertik’s idea Appoint a Special […]

  10. […] our current endorsement list is here, and later today we’re going to start voting on whether or not to endorse Bob Fertik’s special prosecutor idea.  stay […]

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