Sen. Leahy scolds Jus­tice over ter­ror is­sue

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

The new chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on Jan. 2 de­scribed as “dis­ap­point­ing” the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s re­fusal to re­lease doc­u­ments de­tail­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion pol­icy for ter­ror­ism sus­pects.

Sen. Pa­trick J. Leahy, Ver­mont Demo­crat, called on the de­part­ment and the White House to “re­con­sider their re­sponse” and work with the com­mit­tee “to promptly share this in­for­ma­tion, with any ap­pro­pri­ate con­fi­den­tial­ity safe­guards.”

Mr. Leahy, who bit­terly crit­i­cized FBI Di­rec­tor Robert S. Mueller III last month dur­ing a com­mit­tee hear­ing for re­fus­ing to dis­cuss the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s do­mes­tic ter­ror­ist-sur­veil­lance pro­gram, has promised that as chair­man he will tar­get what he called the “un­prece­dented” ef­forts by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to “hide its own ac­tiv­i­ties from the pub­lic.”

“The de­part­ment’s de­ci­sion to brush off my re­quest for in­for­ma­tion about the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s trou­bling in­ter­ro­ga­tion poli­cies is not the con­struc­tive step to­ward bi­par­ti­san­ship that I had hoped for, given Pres­i­dent Bush’s prom­ise to work with us,” he said.

Mr. Leahy said he re­quested doc­u­ments in Novem­ber con­cern­ing CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods and de­scribed the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s of­fer to work with Congress af­ter Democrats took over on Jan. 4 as “po­lit­i­cal lip ser­vice.”

“I have ad­vised the at­tor­ney gen­eral that I plan to pur­sue this mat­ter fur­ther at the com­mit­tee’s first over­sight hear­ing of the De­part­ment of Jus­tice,” he said.

In Novem­ber, Mr. Leahy told At­tor­ney Gen­eral Al­berto R. Gon­za­les that the CIA had dis­closed the ex­is­tence of two in­ter­ro­ga­tion- re­lated doc­u­ments — a pres­i­den­tial di­rec­tive re­gard­ing the agency’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods and de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties lo­cated out­side of the United States, and a Jus­tice De­part­ment memo re­gard­ing CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods.

The CIA dis­clo­sures came dur­ing an on­go­ing Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act law­suit brought by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union.

“Pris­oner abuse is one as­pect of a broader prob­lem, which in­cludes the use of so-called ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary ren­di­tions’ to send peo­ple to other coun­tries where they will be sub­ject to tor­ture,” Mr. Leahy said. “We di­min­ish our own val­ues as a na­tion — and lose cred­i­bil­ity as an ad­vo­cate of hu­man rights around the world — by en­gag­ing in, or out­sourc­ing, tor­ture.”

His re­quest for doc­u­ments in- cluded records de­scrib­ing CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods or poli­cies for the treat­ment of de­tainees, in­clud­ing a di­rec­tive signed by Mr. Bush gov­ern­ing CIA in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods. He also sought doc­u­ments re­gard­ing the le­gal­ity of spe­cific in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics.

In Septem­ber, the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Congress passed a bill giv­ing Mr. Bush wide lat­i­tude in in­ter­ro­gat­ing and de­tain­ing cap­tured en­emy com­bat­ants. Democrats op­posed the mea­sure and have vowed to re­visit the is­sue once they take con­trol of Congress.

Mr. Leahy, joined by sev­eral Democrats and out­go­ing Repub­li­can Chair­man Arlen Specter of Penn­syl­va­nia, have chal­lenged a pro­vi­sion in the bill that pro­hibits a detainee from protest­ing his de­ten­tion in court. They have ar­gued that it is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Getty Images

Sen. Pa­trick J. Leahy, Ver­mont Demo­crat, in­com­ing chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said he will “pur­sue” the Jus­tice De­part­ment for doc­u­ments de­tail­ing its poli­cies on ter­ror­ism sus­pects.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.