weak as water

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March 'middle ground' hearing will probe for Bush admin abuses

David Edwards and Rachel Oswald
THE RAW STORY Wednesday February 25, 2009

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy announced today he will hold a hearing next week to examine options for forming a nonpartisan commission to look into past national security polices and abuses of the Bush administration.

In remarks on the Senate floor late this morning Leahy (D-Vt) announced his hearing "Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry," which will be held at 10 a.m., Weds, March 4 and webcast live online. 

"When historians look back at the last eight years, they will evaluate one of the most secretive administrations in the history of the United States," Leahy said in remarks provided by his office. "We also know that the past can be prologue unless we set things right. The last administration justified torture, presided over the abuses at Abu Ghraib, destroyed tapes of harsh interrogations, and conducted 'extraordinary renditions' that sent people to countries that permit torture during interrogations."

"Nothing has done more to damage America's standing and moral authority than the revelations that, during the last eight years, we abandoned our historic commitment to human rights by repeatedly stretching the law and the bounds of executive power to authorize torture and cruel treatment," Leahy said.

Leahy has suggested an independent panel to focus on national security and executive power as related to counterterrorism efforts. The senator said he has begun to speak with other members in Congress, outside groups and experts, and officials in the White House about the proposal.

He called his commission a "middle ground" for both sides of the aisle to meet in.

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Meanwhile, another Senate committee will review whether CIA interrogation techniques were "successful". If they were (and they have been effective to get detainees to say what officials want to hear), does that make torture OK?

Leon Panetta
J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
CIA chief Leon E. Panetta said officers should not be prosecuted if they were acting on orders.
The 'fact-finding' effort will seek details on secret prisons and interrogation methods -- but will not aim to determine if CIA officials broke laws, legislative sources say.
By Greg Miller 
Los Angeles Times February 27, 2009

Reporting from Washington -- The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to launch an investigation of the CIA's detention and interrogation programs under President George W. Bush, setting the stage for a sweeping examination of some of most secretive and controversial operations in recent agency history.

The inquiry is aimed at uncovering new information on the origins of the programs as well as scrutinizing how they were executed -- including the conditions at clandestine CIA prison sites and the interrogation regimens used to break Al Qaeda suspects, according to Senate aides familiar with the investigation plans.

Officials said the inquiry was not designed to determine whether CIA officials broke laws. "The purpose here is to do fact-finding in order to learn lessons from the programs and see if there are recommendations to be made for detention and interrogations in the future," said a senior Senate aide, who like others described the plan on condition of anonymity because it had not been made public.

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Does CIA officer protection cover Gary Berntsen?

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This page contains a single entry published on February 27, 2009 8:54 AM.

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