Many have been dismayed by the signals then-President-Elect Obama was sending about his Administration’s future role in investigating and prosecuting members of the Bush Administration.
Everything pointed to a "let’s move on" attitude.
But Obama has also spent a lot of time and energy telling us all that it is we…it is us…who will have to participate in the "change" he is leading.
Within hours of entering the Oval Office, Obama threw down the gauntlet.
“Starting today,” Mr. Obama said, “every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”
One of the first acts of the Obama Presidency was to reverse post 9/11 rules erring on the side of secrecy… a policy that clamped down on the Freedom of Information Act.
It was a crucial move by Team Bush, anticipating the crimes and misdemeanors they planned…and still working to pull a veil over the fun and games of previous Administrations…like those of the Reagan and Bush years. This effectively covered up the sins of the father, and the sins of so many working for the son.
Obama, though, has taken a huge step toward pulling back the veil of secrecy.
Although there is little hope that his Administration will investigate, that his Justice Department will seek the justice so many crave, he has challenged us all to do the work that he cannot do. Politically, he has determined that he cannot appear to be engaging in what would be characterized as a "partisan blame-game" cycle of revenge.
Because he has, in opening up the flow of information, challenged us all to do the hard work of piecing together what has happened. In particular, he has challenged a supine and indolent press to actually engage in journalism and investigate.
Now, they cannot use secrecy as an excuse. Or national security.
Now, they have to use this window of openness to crawl into the darkest chapters of our recent past and expose the crimes and misdemeanors that will otherwise go unpunished.
Now, we can use the court of public opinion to convict those who wait patiently on corporate boards, in think tanks and lobbying firms…and during highly-paid speaking tours…until they can to return to power.
Now, it is up to us.