Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oil Probe Reflects Double Standard on "Scandalous" Behavior

With yesterday's announcement of a criminal investigation into the BP oil spill, the Obama administration showed that it finally is starting to get tough on certain matters of justice.

But perhaps more importantly, the statement from Attorney General Eric Holder shows the administration's "look forward, not backwards" stance on other justice issues makes no moral, ethical, or political sense.

The first signs of a tougher stance toward BP came last week when Obama said there had been a "scandalously close" relationship between oil companies and the agency that regulates them. He also announced that a commission will conduct a six-month investigation into the BP spill.

But what about the scandalously close relationship between the White House and federal prosecutors during the George W. Bush administration? What about a commission to investigate numerous highly publicized political prosecutions during the Bush years?

And that doesn't even include other Bush-era misconduct, such as torture, warrantless wiretapping, bogus wars, domestic spying, and more.

We've already seen signs that the "look forward, not backward" approach on Bush-era crimes is a political loser. And the BP investigation shows that such a policy is a clear ethical loser, as well.

While we suspect that most Americans will welcome the probe into the oil-spill disaster, it should raise serious questions about a double standard in the Obama Justice Department.

What message does the White House seem to be sending? "We are tough on BP executives, but not on former Bush executives."

Is that fair or just? Of course not.

Obama's oil-spill commission clearly will be looking "backwards" to investigate wrongdoing that led to disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It's past time for Obama to look "backwards" at another disaster--the one that took place on justice issues during the eight years of the Bush administration.

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