Following major events in our political life, the United States has a long history of setting up national commissions to conduct investigations and issue authoritative reports outlining key facts and findings. The most familiar of those are probably the 9/11 Commission or Warren Commission. For those of us of a careening into middle age, we may even have vague childhood memories of the Tower Commission.
In general, these bipartisan commissions, armed with subpoena power and an army of staff investigators, are given the charge of uncovering exactly what happened during the moments leading up to and following key historical events or moments of great controversy.
Establishing a commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Capital Insurrection of 2021 should be a no brainer. I suppose it is a no brainer for anyone who’s idea of acceptable political activity doesn’t including storming and attempting to occupy the seat of government in an effort to overturn a lawful election.
In what I can only consider a truly bizarre turn of events, I find myself agreeing with Speaker Pelosi in that voting against establishing a commission fully empowered to investigate the facts and details of what drove insurrectionists into the halls of the Capitol and to uncover who gave them leadership, aid, and comfort, would be an unmistakable, and unforgivable, act of personal cowardice.
I’d like to think House and Senate Republicans might at some point display the barest hint of possessing a spine… and yet I expect to see them inexplicably doubling down on fervently licking the boots of the failed candidate who led them to wrack and ruin.
New reports suggest that Ivanka Trump used a personal email address to conduct official business. If true, those reports are a problem for her and for the administration.
So here I am, a card carrying Republican, in defiance of what social media says I’m supposed to say, arguing that the allegations should be investigated. Hand the records over to the FBI and allow them to do their job. I expect the House of Representatives, under Democratic control in the next session, will also want to hold their own investigation. That’s fine. Conducting such inquiries is a prerogative of the House.
That said, I expect Republicans to observe the same standards that they did in their investigation of Secretary Clinton in demanding a through search of all pertinent files. Likewise, I expect House Democrats to largely observe that sending emails outside official government platforms “isn’t really that big a deal.” If Republicans pass the buck, they’re negligent. If Democrats rail that personal email is now suddenly important, they’re hypocrites.
Of course there are fine points of detail that the media doesn’t bother with – things like classification level of the email, privately owned server housing classified material, whether tens of thousands of emails were destroyed before they could be reviewed by the investigators, etc. They’re perhaps esoteric details, but they matter in the course of deciding if something is a legitimate “big deal” or if it’s Washington-issued “nothing burger.”
I’m legitimately sorry to see General Petraeus’ departure from the CIA. Whether he’s falling on his sword in a fit of honor, or whether his resignation is cover for something more sinister, remains to be seen. All I know beyond what the media has reported so far is that the United States has lost a tireless servant of the Republic and probably the best example in his generation of what it means to be a warrior scholar. Whatever sins he may or may not have committed in his personal life, we’re all the poorer for his now being on the outside looking in… and for the sake of the country I desperately hope that his resignation is simply a man of honor trying to make amends in the only way he knows how and not the tip of some other, darker iceberg.
No matter what they say, people from the Inspector General’s office are never here to help you. I’m not saying they’re necessarily the goon squad, but having them lurk around the office is a little like having a couple of buzzards circling over your house. Sure, maybe there isn’t a dead body buried in the back yard, but something sure smells rotten back there. Even if you’re not the one who caused it, life is going to get mighty uncomfortable for a while. My best advice is seek cover and make yourself unobtrusive as they shit all over everything.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.