Rabkin Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee

Professor Jeremy Rabkin appeared as a witness in a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing entitled, "Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry" on Wednesday, March 4, on Capitol Hill. The hearing featured testimony presenting arguments for and against the formation of a commission proposed by committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to investigate possible wrongdoing under the Bush administration.

Rabkin delivered remarks questioning the need for a "truth commission" subject to the possible taint of partisanship when mechanisms for indictment and criminal prosecution currently exist in instances where sufficient evidence points to criminal wrongdoing. In comparing the actions of the Bush administration to those that led to the formation of "truth commissions" in Chile and South Africa, Rabkin pointed out that, "In those countries, they had to have these commissions because they couldn't have prosecutions."

Rabkin also expressed concern that there would be an implication of guilt for those called to testify before such a commission, resulting in violation of the witnesses' civil rights through their inability to present defense, as in a court proceeding.

Interest in formation of a "truth commission" has been ignited further by the recent release of several memoranda from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that provided controversial guidance to the Bush administration. While opinion on the need for a commission remains divided, the Obama administration has not yet weighed in with its position.