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US House panel threatens to subpoena Ashcroft on DOJ interrogation memo

[JURIST] US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) [official website] Monday threatened to seek subpoenas [materials] to compel three current and former administration officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile], to testify about a recently released Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum [text; JURIST report] that advised the US Department of Defense that military interrogators could employ a wide range of interrogation methods when questioning foreign detainees outside the United States without fear of criminal liability or constitutional sanction. In letters sent to Ashcroft, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General John Yoo [academic profile], and Vice President Chief of Staff David Addington [US News profile], Conyers said he would seek subpoenas if he does not receive a response by Friday. Yoo and Ashcroft have both previously declined invitations to testify at the upcoming May 6 hearing, while a lawyer for the office of the Vice President said that Addington would not appear. The memo in question has since been repudiated by the DOJ. AP has more.

This would not be the first time that the House Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas against administration officials. Last month, the committee filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] to enforce subpoenas seeking information from former White House legal counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten [official profiles] regarding the US Attorneys firing scandal [JURIST news archive]. In February, US Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging him to begin a grand jury investigation [JURIST report] into the conduct of the two White House aides and saying that the House would initiate a civil lawsuit if she did not receive a response within one week. Mukasey refused to present the contempt citations to a grand jury [JURIST report] in a response the following day.

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