Senate Committee to probe CIA interrogation methods
Calls for probes into Bush administration abuses are really picking up steam now with the Thursday news that the Senate Intelligence Committee could open a new investigation into the CIA's interrogation program as early as today.
Senate aides told The Wall Street Journal that the aim of the committee's investigation is a "fact-finding exercise to try to learn some lessons. It's a review to make sure the committee understands what happened with the intention of looking forward" to ensure future policies "are done in the right way."
The review under Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) may provide evidence for future investigations or lawsuits against officials involved with the program.
"The probe's findings could put Mr. Obama in a tough spot. He has said his 'instinct' is to 'make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing,' rather than to pursue possible allegations against CIA officers or Bush administration officials," reported The Journal. "However, he has left the door open to prosecution if there is evidence of a crime."
"On Wednesday CIA Director Leon Panetta said he wouldn't support 'an investigation or a prosecution of those individuals' who followed legal guidance. However, he pledged to cooperate with any congressional reviews aimed at "trying to gain lessons learned," wrote The Journal.
The American Civil Liberties Union applauded news of the new investigation but called for any review to be open to the public.
“This could become an extraordinarily important investigation because, up to this point, the CIA has faced very little scrutiny for its role in torture," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office in a press release. “In order for the investigation’s effectiveness to reach its full potential, the proceedings need to be open to the public. Transparency is necessary for our nation to pull itself out of the darkness in which these failed policies were created.”
The scope of the committee's review would be much narrower than other proposed investigations into Bush administration abuses.
Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday announced he will be holding a "middle ground" truth commission hearing into past national security policies of the Bush administration.
"While many are focused on whether crimes were committed, it is just as important to learn if significant mistakes were made, regardless of whether they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury to be criminal conduct." Leahy said. "We compound the serious mistakes already made if we limit our inquiry to criminal investigations and trials."
There is widespread American support for some kind of investigation into Bush administration abuses though sentiment varies as to whether it should be a criminal investigation or something more like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where those who agree to testify would be given immunity from future prosecutions.
A recent Gallup poll showed that close to two thirds of those surveyed support some type of Bush review with nearly 40 percent supporting an actual criminal investigation.
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