The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Leahy Op-Ed Pleas for Truth Commission, But Still No Judiciary Committee Probe

Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 08:00 | May 04, 2009 22:41
Tyreece Bauer

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) made an eloquent case in The Boston Globe on Sunday for why the United States needs the “commission of inquiry” he’s proposed to get at the truth of how torture and abuse became accepted U.S. policy and practice.

Referring to the abusive interrogation techniques used on detainees, Leahy wrote:

The techniques are wrong and their supposed legal rationale is just as bad. The idea that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel would be used to contort our laws on subjects as serious as torture is appalling. The rationalization of these memos showed a willingness to ignore legal requirements as long as there is no clear mechanism of enforcement. These memoranda seem calculated to provide legal cover – a legal free pass – for these unlawful policies. The Justice Department was apparently being used to immunize government officials to conduct torture by defining it down and building in legal loopholes.

The apparent predetermined outcome of these legal memos raises the question of where the demand for this outcome and for approving these policies arose. Press accounts indicate that these were not the results of requests from CIA officers on the ground and in the field, but arose through pressure from senior administration officials in Washington.

Leahy’s truth commission could certainly get at those questions. But, as civil rights advocates and even some congressional staff privately acknowledge, so could a serious, focused investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs. It could reveal exactly the evidence he’s seeking, which in turn would reveal whether the conduct was criminal, as some allege, or merely shoddy lawyering and bad public policy.

When he held a hearing on his truth commission idea, Leahy faced an assortment of objections from Republicans and their witnesses about how Congress shouldn’t delegate its oversight power to an unaccountable commission that’s not authorized to sit in judgment of public officials or to bring prosecutions. (As I wrote before, Republicans at the hearing — including the newly-minted Pennsylvania Democrat, Sen. Arlen Specter — made a powerful case that if laws were broken, the perpetrators should be prosecuted, not just analyzed by some toothless commission.)

Presumably, Leahy and his colleagues — and Attorney General Eric Holder, for that matter — don’t think there’s sufficient evidence yet that the acts involves were criminal. But a focused Senate Judiciary Committee investigation — along the lines of the one conducted by the Senat Armed Services Committee and now being undertaken by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — could reveal both “what happened and why” and what more, if anything, should be done about it.

TWI is on Twitter. Please follow us here.

Tyreece Bauer | Analyst and photographer in the field of technology. When I'm not working on my laptop, I like to go surfing, hiking with friends, and go karting or play soccer with my nephew. I enjoy traveling and am excited to visit Tokyo this summer. What are your plans for your next trip?


E-Verify Mandate Begins Today

The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm

EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management

At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from

EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules

The EPA seal (Pic via The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’

In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work

EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’

All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of

EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some

EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann  has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.

EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria

The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards

EPA biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill

New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river. Scientific American reports : U.S

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |