Voting thread: should we endorse the Special Prosecutor idea?

Update, January 14: Final vote 30 yes, 2 no, 1 present.  Get FISA Right has officially endorsed the special prosecutor idea.  Thread locked.  Thanks to all for participating!

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 Prosecutor for the Crimes of the Bush Administration in the Ideas for Change in America competition.

Sam Stein’ Obama Leaves Door Open To Investigating Bush, But Wants To “Look Forward” gives an overview of President-elect Obama’s position as well as Bob’s.  I’ve invited Bob (whose a long-time Get FISA Right member) to post here on why he thinks this makes sense, and also asked Ari Melber (who’s been working with Bob and covering this at The Nation) for his perspectives, but haven’t heard yet whether they’re interested.

So with the Thursday 2 PM Pacific time deadline for Ideas for Change, let’s get the voting started now.

Please remember that we’re voting on whether Get FISA Right should endorse the idea, not on whether each of us as individuals supports it.

To vote, please submit a comment to this thread with the following:

– a Yes/No/Present, alone on a line.  Yes means “we should endorse the idea in the Ideas for Change competition”, no means “we should not endorse at this time”

– a sentence or two explaining your vote.  if you’ve got more to say, please use the discussion thread or just link off to a longer post.

– an opinion, if you have one, on what our threshold should be: a simple majority (50% + 1)?  a super-majority of 60% just like the Senate?  something else?  it’s unfortunate that we’re deciding on this at the same time as the vote, but i’m not sure what else to do here.

We’ll close the voting at 6 a.m Pacific time Wednesday.  If the measure is approved, that’ll give us about 30 hours to act … hopefully enough to make a difference.  At least assuming there aren’t any recounts …

If you decide to change your vote later, that’s okay — just reply again, making sure to link back to which vote you’re changing.

I’ll go first as an example, but to attempt to minimize how much I influence things I’ll vote “present” for now.


PS: And speaking of voting, please check out Steve Elliot’s Get FISA Right: Last Chance To Vote Against Domestic Spying and consider voting for it on digg — we are probably close to making the front page.


38 Responses to Voting thread: should we endorse the Special Prosecutor idea?

  1. jonpincus says:


    i can see arguments both ways and am going to wait to give Bob and Ari a chance to present their perspective. i will probably change my vote later, but for now don’t want to influence anybody too much.

    at this point i think we should set a threshold of 60% for an endorsement, although i’m curious what others have to say.

    Update, January 13: I finally voted for real. See near the end of the thread.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Yes, absolutely. This is crucial to restoring the rule of law. It otherwise means nothing.

  3. Craig Nazor says:


    I think we should endorse the Special Prosecutor idea. Even if it doesn’t happen, there must be mounting pressure brought to bear on those who have violated our Constitutional rights to energize support for this movement, otherwise people will say “What’s the use?”

    Another reason: blood pressure control. In a recent interview in Iraq, shortly before he was attacked by a pair of shoes, Bush was crowing about how part of his success in Iraq was defeating Al Queda in Iraq. When the interviewer pointed out that Al Queda WASN”T EVEN IN Iraq intil America invaded, Bush’s answer was “So what?”

    SO WHAT!!!

    Like I said, blood pressure control, associated with a VERY badly needed reality check.

    A 60% threshold for endorsement seems good to me, also, just to show there is good agreement in the movement.

    * update: added by Jon to match the format of other votes

  4. Rod Stoick says:

    Yes – it’s time to find the truth and deliver consequences if our Constitution and laws have been ignored…redemption.

  5. Yes, I think we should endorse the Special Prosecutor idea.

    If any future president gets ideas about following in Bush’s footsteps, he needs to having something to think twice about.

  6. Sarah Rath says:

    Yes. Aren’t we supposed to be protecting the Constitution? How many ways did Bush and Cheney say “So What” to our rule of law?

  7. Punk Patriot says:


    This is such a no-brainer.

  8. Sally G says:

    We must defend the Constitution; whereas we must move forward, we cannot allow the Bush-administration precedents to stand. Nixon’s misconduct led to the passage of FISA; current attempts to short-circuit the Constitution must be followed up similarly.
    The House Judiciary Committee was been looking into just what powers the executive branch has before the summer recess, and we should monitor that effort as well and lend support to their attempts to get witnesses to testify,
    60% is good for group endorsement; can we endorse as individuals as well?

  9. eggy1943 says:


    If our US Constitution is not enforced by accountability, investigation, court action, it is JUST A PIECE OF PAPER.”

    * update: added by Jon after email confirmation that this was intended as a ‘yes’ vote.

  10. Victor Abrahamsen says:


    It’s important that a special prosecutor gather up all the evidence and interview all the principals they can, as soon as possible.

    It’s important that the product of the prosecutor’s investigations results in a document that captures, as neutrally as possible, what has been done and why.

    It’s important, not for this generation, but for those to come.

  11. Yolanda Leaird says:


    What George Bush and Dick Cheny admitted to (torture, water-boarding) is against the law. Obama should hold these men accountable for their illegal actions. If he doesn’t, he will becontinuing the path of the Bush administration.
    How can we possibly convict other criminals for their crimes and not Bush and Cheney? This would be wrong.

    * update: added by Jon after email confirmation that this was intended as a ‘yes’ vote.

  12. Meow Mel says:

    YES, I fully endorse prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Bush and Cheney are war criminals (and that’s being kind).

  13. Nina Kohl says:

    Yes. Cheney confessed on national television and we need to push as hard as we can for investigations and prosecutions or the world, and history, will not judge us kindly — that having been said, unless citizens take to the streets (and they may yet), the best we’re gonna get is to restore the rule going forward, so, we need to be at least as well organized around getting it right going forward as we are around accountability for the past. (Re procedure: a simple majority will do.)

  14. Ben Masel says:


    i support multiple Special Prosecutors, but don’t think “we’ should formal;y do so.

  15. SonyaLynn says:

    Yes. I think that the overly-expansive and rights-infringing FISA bill is symptomatic of the larger problems with this administration. We should fight both the symptom AND the cause.

  16. Yes.

    Accountability is part of getting it right,” it is part of “focusing on the future.” Without it, people like Cheney, Bush, Yoo, and Addington — maybe even some of the same people — will feel legitimized and encouraged to do all this again someday when they get another chance.

    There’s a common thread between torture/ war crimes and the warrantless, illegal NSA domestic surveillance, and that’s an executive branch that believed itself to be elected kings above the law. That attitude isn’t deterred by Congress rewriting laws or by a succeeding decent and law abiding president. It’s deterred by penalizing the wrongdoers.

  17. Lloyd says:


    We must recognize a real distinction between the positive-only merits of an initiative to “Get FISA Right,” which the incoming President should feel comfortable in endorsing, and a most likely highly divisive, sweeping Special Prosecutor investigation of another President. If crimes have been committed, of course the evildoers should be prosecuted. But, the “Get FISA Right” initiative need not be watered down with a loss of credibility, which in my opinion would be the most probable outcome, from endorsing a muck-raking initiative that the incoming President will not likely endorse with any enthusiasm.

    Congress is charged with upholding the Constitution, and they have failed miserably in the past 8 years. Passing the buck to a Special Prosecutor only absolves our representatives of their failures to uphold their oaths of office.

    I have concluded that the current situation(s), as well as any future historical look-back, will result in GW Bush replacing James Buchanan (from Pennsylvania) as the worst President in American history. For that, I am pleased.

    Judging by the responses thus far, a threshold of only 10% would result in a decision to support the endorsement. But, while we all might believe that many in the Bush administration, including Bush himself, have committed crimes and violated provisions of the Constitution, I would hope that we all are more in favor of preserving the positive goals of “Get FISA Right.” (Maybe a recount is in order – HA!!!)

  18. Bob Fertik says:

    Thank you all for considering this cross-endorsement. endorsed “Get FISA Right” on as soon as endorsements were allowed:

    Naturally I agree with all the “Yes” arguments you’ve made above.

    It is our moral duty as citizens to demand prosecution of war criminals who live among us. Surely we learned that lesson from the Holocaust.

    It is also in our practical self-interest, because any of one of us could become their victims if these criminals remain free and someday return to power. Tragically, we failed to learn that lesson from Iran-Contra.

    There is no reason why appointing a Special Prosecutor would be “divisive.” Of course his targets will howl, and so will their neocon allies. But Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocons have all been thoroughly discredited by their Iraq War lies, so who cares what they say?

    Upholding the law through prosecution and upholding the Constitution through better legislation go hand in hand. supports both and we’d be delighted to work closely with Get FISA Right.

  19. Harry Waisbren says:

    Yes (and then some)

    How can you look forward without knowing what foundation you are standing upon? These crimes need to be investigated fully before we know what laws will be required to prevent this from ever happening again, and accountability must be doled out to perpetrators to ensure that the law is enforced.

    I also think a 51% majority should suffice.

  20. Anton Krukowski says:


    David Cole’s article, “What to Do About the Torturers?” in the current New York Review of Books makes a very compelling argument for why we need to at a minimum investigate the past thoroughly in order to heal and move forward. I highly recommend this article. The link is here:

  21. Ajsa says:

    yes, because we have to be consistent with the rights for everyone.

    and special prosecutor might get some things going but in my opinion will not get far, because if those individuals from Bush administration who committed crime are still loose, it is because they have been cleared.

    So I wish “GOOD LUCK”

  22. john says:


    Our system has been continually contaminated throughout my lifetime and beyond – this administration has taken all of the worst attitudes and behaviors, in respect to the general population, to new lows – legally, constitutionally, and socially; therefore, since Bush and Cheney have both admitted with great bravado that they were in the loop of the torture decisions they should rightfully be held accountable for the sake of our own laws, the constitutional parameters they swore to uphold, and to prove to the world that we can actually function as a true Democracy with laws to respect – even by our elected officials. And by the way, Obama need not make this the epicenter of his official activities but surely needs to take a stand and start real change whenever confronted with situations pointed directly at corrupted behavior in government.

  23. JoeB says:

    Yes. Absolutely yes. Having just read Glenn Greenwald today, I have to vote yes. He makes the case quite clearly that Obama is like many politicians in that he and his team are getting pressure from a wide variety of people who want to move the country in a certain direction, including those who would stay the course or pursue a Cheney-like agenda. For this reason, we must offer an alternative. If we do not heed the rule of law, we’ll forever be tainted by these last eight years. Here’s Glenn’s post:

  24. […] Get FISA Right Please say no to telecom immunity and get FISA right in 2009 « Voting thread: should we endorse the Special Prosecutor idea? […]

  25. maryrw says:

    Yes. We should by all means support appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush administration, especially torture, extraordinary rendition, and illegal wiretapping.

  26. jayskew says:

    I already voted it up on

  27. Patrick says:

    I see it as a win-win scenario.
    50% +1 (We’re down to 48-hrs.)

  28. Mary Pellecchia says:

    YES!!!! Bush and Cheney must be made to understand that they are not above the rule of law. You can’t start a war and then use it to justify doing whatever you want because, after all, “it’s a time of war.”

    51% is sufficient.

  29. Linda says:


    if it does happen, there are a number of dems in congress who were also complicit and would have to be charged: Pelosi and Reid among them.

  30. […] Right and civil libertarians, peace activists — together again for the first time, along with a demand for accountability for the last 8 years.   Scary […]

  31. edgery says:


    There will be tremendous pressure to “move on” with all the rhetoric focusing on looking forward rather than backward. The only way to hope to counter that is with a Special Prosecutor. No country that has been ravaged by its own government has been able to “move on” without some public clearing of the facts, whether with truth commissions or trials.

  32. Bill Day says:

    I think we should support a Special Prosecutor. As my friend Thomas Nephew points out, if you do not prosecute (and disbar, where appropriate) the Republican creeps who have subverted the government, there is nothing to keep them from coming back the next time the political wheel turns. Anyone with doubts should read the today’s story in the New York Times on what Bradley Schlozman has done to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. See

  33. Meow Mel says:

    Reply to Linda’s comment: “if it does happen, there are a number of dems in congress who were also complicit and would have to be charged: Pelosi and Reid among them.”

    Previously written elsewhere, starting with a NYTimes article:

    “But Mr. Obama also said prosecutions would proceed if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken.”

    IF laws had been broken? OMG! Now that Obama personally voted for FISA, doesn’t this implicate – himself? Even if FISA is an admendment…isn’t the original Constitution the law of the land?

    Isn’t Obama a constitutional scholar? Is he the centralist we “liberals” (defenders of the Constitution) fear he is?

    The courts need to rule against this amendment. It’s just plain wrong. By all means, let the court step in and restore our civil liberties.

    There are many in the legistlative club who are implicated by both the war and FISA. Can we go after everyone or just concentrate on Bush and Cheney? If Obama is implicated, will he press this one?

  34. jonpincus says:


    When we started these discussions while I personally supported a special prosecutor I wasn’t sure it made sense for Get FISA Right to endorse. The almost-unanimous voices of the members, and President-elect Obama’s statement on ABC in indirect response to Bob’s question Open for Questions on, here have convinced me. Obama’s criteria matches GFR’s: is this a forward-looking action? I agree with others here that it is: the truth about what’s happened — and justice — are necessary bases for the future. And I think the additional information that comes out as part of a diligent investigation will help Americans understand how badly the Constitution and rule of law have been violated, and provide more momentum for getting FISA right.

  35. TomR says:

    Should we endorse the Special Prosecutor idea?

    Yes, for the very simple reason pointed out by Jonathan Turley: If Obama doesn’t act to prosecute the constitutional/war crimes of the Bush administration, then Obama will assume ownership of those crimes through his complicity.

    – Tom

  36. Robin Patt-Corner says:


    I don’t think we can count on Congress to follow up on this alone

  37. […] hours to go in’s Ideas for Change in America competition, Get FISA Right has voted overwhelmingly (30-2) to endorse Bob Fertik’s Appoint a Special Prosecutor for the Crimes of the Bush […]

  38. […] groups — first and foremost, it seemed to me, the venerable site.  After a straw poll indicated strong support among “Get FISA Righters”, we and co-promoted […]