Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Word on Investigations

Jason Leopold summarizes the week in Bush torture investigations. The outlook is much sunnier than it was just a while ago:

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support funding and staff for additional fact-finding by the Senate Armed Services Committee";

"Levin, D-Michigan, also said he intends to encourage the Justice Department and incoming Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate torture practices that took place while Bush was in office";

"Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters: 'Looking at what has been done is necessary'”;

"On Jan. 18, two days before Obama’s inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’s plan to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the 'broad range' of policies pursued by the Bush administration 'under claims of unreviewable war powers'”;

"Conyers urged the Attorney General to 'appoint a Special Counsel or expand the scope of the present investigation into CIA tape destruction to determine whether there were criminal violations committed pursuant to Bush administration policies that were undertaken under unreviewable war powers, including enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition, and warrantless domestic surveillance'”;

"Levin also indicated that he expects to release the full Armed Services Committee report – covering an 18-month investigation – in about two or three weeks. Levin added that he would ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct its own investigation of torture as implemented by the CIA."

(all quotes from Jason Leopold).

This is excellent news all around. I still think there will be hitches in investigating Bush torture policies because Obama has kept on some of the players - people like John Brennan and Stephen Kappes. Regardless of what you think they did, it is not going to look good for them.

An important name missing from Leopold's article is Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein commented on January 10th:

"'They (the CIA) carry out orders and the orders come from the (National
Security Council) and the White House, so there's not a lot of policy debate
that goes on there," she said. "We're going to continue our looking into the
situation and I think that is up to the administration and the director.'

Feinstein declined to comment on whether her committee would take specific
action to offer legal cover to those involved in harsh interrogations that some
critics say amount to torture."

This is a simplified view that offers a lot of cover to the CIA.

I would like to see Feinstein support the efforts that are brewing to investigate our intelligence agencies. Sure, it's not as exciting as investigating Obama inauguration tickets, but it's her job as well.

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