Bond Pulls Out of Detention Policy Review

Posted September 25, 2009 at 2:29pm

Senate Intelligence ranking member Kit Bond (R-Mo.) has pulled out of the panel’s extensive review of U.S. detention policy in the war on terrorism, but Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she will continue to pursue the investigation into whether detainees were tortured.“I very much regret the fact that the Republican side of the Intelligence Committee has chosen not to continue to participate in the Committee’s study and investigation into the detention and interrogation of high-value detainees,— Feinstein said in a statement Friday. “However, that study and investigation is being pursued, additional staff are being hired, and the Committee is continuing the work with all due diligence.—Bond said in a statement that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor for allegations of torture played a leading role in his decision to end the bipartisan inquiry.“Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee’s review,— Bond said in a statement first reported by the Washington Times. “Instead, DoJ sent a loud and clear message that previous decisions to decline prosecution mean nothing and old criminal charges can be brought anytime against anyone — against these odds, what current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee’s questions?—Bond continued: “Indeed, forcing these terror fighters to make this choice is neither fair nor just. The Committee cannot complete its review in a reasonable time if witnesses won’t talk to us. While there is value to learning from past experiences, there are other areas in need of current congressional oversight, including the war in Afghanistan, Iran’s intentions with respect to ballistic missiles, and expiring [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] terror fighting tools. The Committee cannot give these matters sufficient attention if we are spinning our wheels in an endless document review.”Feinstein and Bond announced in March that the committee would undertake an exhaustive look back at the interrogation techniques, which some have alleged amounted to torture, that were conducted by the CIA and government contractors on “high-value— detainees in the war on terror during the administration of former President George W. Bush.In a joint statement released at the time, Feinstein and Bond said the panel “has agreed on a strong bipartisan basis to begin a review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The purpose is to review the program and to shape detention and interrogation policies in the future. The review will include: how the CIA created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program; how CIA’s assessments that detainees possessed relevant information were made; whether the CIA accurately described the detention and interrogation program to other parts of the U.S. government, including the Office of Legal Counsel and the Senate Intelligence Committee; whether the CIA implemented the program in compliance with official guidance, including covert action findings, Office of Legal Counsel opinions, and CIA policy; [and]an evaluation of intelligence information gained through the use of enhanced and standard interrogation techniques.—Feinstein has estimated the review would take at least a year to complete.