More and more, it seems each president spends as much time dealing with ongoing investigations of his respective administration as he does governing the country.
The following are the ten most INFLUENTIAL government investigations in U.S. history in ascending order of importance.
10) Kennedy assassination investigation. A whitewash. A majority of Americans think there was more to JFK‘s murder than the “lone assassin theory“ concluded by the Warren Commission. Be patient, though. In 2017 our government will be required to finally open all of the evidence now locked away.
9) Pearl Harbor commission. Another dud. The most important question was never seriously considered - whether President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew or should have known that we were about to be attacked by the Japanese on 12/7/41.
8) Iran-Contra investigation. To his credit (and unlike every other president investigated), Ronald Reagan stated “the buck stops here“ when the truth came out that his administration had indeed negotiated with terrorists. Yet, administration officials Casper Weinberger, George Schultz, Oliver North, and the Teflon King himself were never held accountable for charges made.
7) Lincoln assassination. The sham military trial and executions of four co-conspirators influenced other frenzied rushes to judgment over the next century and a half. The accused were not allowed to testify at their trials before being hung in a matter of weeks. Also, their lawyers were not able to prepare a proper defense, in part, because the prisoners were secluded in jails with bags over their heads. Sound familiar?
6) WMD committee. Why have no significant caches of weapons of mass destruction been found in Iraq? The CIA and “slam-dunk“ George Tenet have already been spanked in the first round of conclusions by this congressional group‘s review of the evidence leading to our invasion of Iraq. The WMD investigation could increase in importance when the Bush administration‘s possible misreading of intelligence in Iraq is analyzed more fully after the 2004 presidential elections.
5) 9/11 commission. Though there is plenty of blame to go around, the commission‘s findings will probably do nothing more than move around some offices on organizational charts. As we go to press before the 9/11 commission‘s findings have been assimilated, the report doesn‘t appear to include enough specifics about protecting our own borders and avoiding policies that inflame the rest of the world.
4) Prisoner abuse investigations. With several investigations ongoing, this scandal has the potential of Watergate - to bring down a presidential administration. It is indefensible that foreign detainees were routinely mistreated. Just how far up the chain of U.S. command Geneva Convention violations were authorized is the main issue left for the investigations. My question is: what idiot encouraged our troops to VIDEOTAPE the abuse of prisoners (acts which will be used against Americans for decades)?
3) Starr investigation. Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on investigating a 20-year- old bad investment and a consensual affair with Monica seems laughable after what our country has been through, lately. The only reason this investigation was ranked high (3rd most influential) at all is that it undoubtedly took the Clinton administration‘s attention away from dealing with the growing terrorist threat of al-Quada and Osama bin Laden.
2) Watergate. Ah, yes, the king of all presidential scandals and investigations - right? What started out as a relatively innocent review of a break-in of the Democratic campaign headquarters turned into the most riveting investigation in American history. Never before had the inner-workings of government been exposed in this way. Richard Nixon became the only president to resign and little known Georgian Jimmy Carter was elected in part because of his promise “I will not lie to you.“
1) Church committee. Idaho Senator Frank Church chaired a congressional committee in the 1970‘s that recommended limiting the power of our intelligence agencies. Bottom line: people, if you must spy, be gentle about it. Spawned by the Watergate scandal, this investigation is ranked the most influential of all because its conclusions still tie the hands of the FBI and CIA over 25 years later. This committee‘s overkill opened the door in the U.S. just enough for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists to bring us the death and mayhem of 9/11/01.