Schumer: DOJ should investigate Red Cross reports of torture
David Edwards and Rachel Oswald
Published: Wednesday April 8, 2009

Print This  Email This

A powerful Democrat has added his voice to those calling for a federal investigation into reports of torture at Guantanamo Bay and at black site prisons abroad.

In light of the startling revelations that came to light this week with the publishing of a Red Cross report, which documented in gruesome detail interrogation practices such as suffocation by water, beating by collar and prolonged nudity, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he would support a Department of Justice investigation into the reported torture.

"President Obama said he doesn‘t want to spend all his time looking back. Fair enough. But he has also said egregious violations should be prosecuted," said Schumer, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The most logical, best place to start is the Justice Department. They haven‘t said if they are going to do it or not ... If they won‘t do it, someone else is going to have to do it. But they should be given the first crack."

Maddow had originally asked the senator if he would support a Judiciary Committee-led investigation.

By saying that he supported a Justice-led investigation first, Schumer seemed to say that he was not giving his support to Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) 'Truth Commission' proposal, which has received the support of committee members Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

"I have some faith in [Attorney General] Eric Holder and the Obama administration on this issue. The first day they said, 'OK, waterboarding is torture,'" Schumer said.

Journalist Mark Danner, who obtained the report by the International Committee of the Red Cross and published it on the New York Review of Books' Web site, told Maddow that he was concerned that the ICRC's ability to get into prisons to check on the health of prisoners might be affected by the report's leaking. That concern, however, was outweighed by a greater need for American society to know what took place at the prisons, he said.

"The publication of the report is in the public interest," defended Danner. "It describes in unprecedentedly vivid terms what was done in the black sites by American interrogators and American Central Intelligence agents. And it does so at a time when... former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, is claiming that all of these activities were done legally, according to the Constitution and that furthermore, they were necessary to protect the country."

According to Danner, it is very important that Americans read for themselves the first-person accounts of 14 detainees in the 40-page ICRC report of the abuse they suffered while in the custody of U.S. forces. Danner also took up the call for an investigation.

"I think it‘s enormously important that we have a societally agreed on investigation undertaken by people who can speak with authoritative voices that will show not only what was done, but whether or not real intelligence vital to the country was gained by the use of these techniques," Danner said. "Because the former president and the former vice president claim that these particular procedures, which the Red Cross calls 'torture,' unequivocally, were necessary to protecting the country."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Apr. 7, 2009.

Download video via

Schumer: DOJ should investigate torture/Red Cross report

Sen. Chuck Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the Justice Department should investigate torture of detainees that took place during the Bush administration.

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Apr. 7, 2009.

Download video via

Get Raw exclusives as they break -- Email & mobile
Email - Never spam: