Intelligence Committee to Probe Interrogation Policies

Posted March 5, 2009 at 3:42pm

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced a deal on Thursday to investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs, even as a broader truth commission proposed by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was running into stiff GOP resistance.In a committee press release, Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said the committee inquiry, which is expected to take one year to complete, would run concurrently with a similar White House investigation launched by President Barack Obama earlier this year.According to the committee, the panel will investigate a number of issues related to the development of the detention and interrogation programs and policies. The goals are to understand how they have been implemented in the past and to guide policies in the future.Although Feinstein and Bond were able to come to a bipartisan deal in launching their investigation, a much broader proposal by Leahy to set up a nonpartisan truth commission has run into heavy opposition from Republicans on the Judiciary Committee.Unlike the Intelligence and White House investigations, Leahy’s plan would not be limited to intelligence-gathering scandals. It would have a much broader scope, potentially encompassing virtually any allegation of wrongdoing during the eight years of the Bush administration.Republicans have reacted angrily toward Leahy’s proposal, accusing the Judiciary chairman of trying to punish Republicans and arguing it is better to move forward rather than revisit the scandals of the previous administration.For instance, following a committee hearing on the proposal Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) — who in recent months has emerged as one of Obama’s most reliable GOP allies — criticized the proposal as a partisan effort to demonize the Democrats’ political opponents. “Demonizing and criminalizing opponents is not the American way. We have Congressional oversight and aggressive media which have already been exhaustively investigating these matters and we have the American people to pass judgment on the result through elections,— Hatch said.Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) argued that the proposal would result in unnecessary redundancy and that the new administration has already begun the process of disclosing information about alleged Bush administration wrongdoing. Specter called the commission “unnecessary because you had a change of administration, you could walk in the front door, ask for directions to the relevant filing cabinet, go in and open the drawer and find out anything you wanted to know. Well, that’s been done. And it’s being done to a greater extent. You had some rather startling disclosures with the publicity in recent days about the unusual, to put it mildly, legal opinions which were issued to justify executive action.—