Accountability goes bipartisan

ACCOUNTABILITY GOES BIPARTISAN…. For a while, we were led to believe the idea of investigating Bush administration wrongdoing was some kind of fringe idea, embraced only by wild-eyed liberals looking for a partisan witch-hunt. It’s getting increasingly clear, however, that it’s hardly a nutty idea.

First, the notion of some kind of process was embraced by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Soon after, a national Gallup poll showed fairly strong public support for such an endeavor: “Close to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants.”

Now, even a House Republican is on board.

There is, in fact, an element of bipartisan support for creating of a truth and reconciliation committee to investigate illegalities from the Bush years. And it comes from within Congress.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, has signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers to establish “a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties.”

Jones is one of the more fascinating characters in the Republican caucus. It was Jones, you may recall, who came up with the idea of changing the name of “french fries” to “freedom fries” in the House dining hall in 2003. Asked why the move was necessary, Jones said, “This isn’t a political or publicity stunt…. It’s a gesture just to say to the French, ‘Up yours!'”

In the years that followed, however, Jones changed his perspective considerably. He became a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, and was even reluctant to endorse John McCain’s presidential campaign. On the Hill, Jones developed a reputation as a mirror image of Joe Lieberman circa 2006 — someone who votes with the party more often than not, but reinforces the other party’s arguments and sides with rivals on national security issues.

And now, Jones has endorsed a Democratic proposal for Bush administration accountability. Good for him.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation