House Judiciary chair renews call for probe into Bush 'war on terror' policies

[JURIST] US House Judiciary Committee [official website] Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) [official website] has released a final version of a report [text; PDF] reiterating his allegations that the Bush administration engaged in numerous abuses during the "war on terror" and calling on Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile; JURIST news archive] to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether any criminal laws were violated. The report, released Thursday, is predicated on Conyers's effort "to peel away the secrecy of [the Bush] Administration, expose its wrongdoing, and protect the liberties and freedoms of the American people." It contains recommendations for pursuing unresolved subpoena and document requests, the creation of a "Blue-Ribbon Commission," and specifically calls for an independent criminal review of the warrantless domestic surveillance, extraordinary rendition, and enhanced interrogation practices utilized by the Bush administration. Conyers asserts that these "war on terror" policies may be in violation of criminal laws and cites the UN Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment [convention text], ratified by the US in 1994, as international authority that requires its signatories to investigate possible torture within their jurisdictions. Conyers points out that since the Bush administration's "war on terror" policies appear to violate criminal laws, investigation would be warranted, but would present a conflict of interest for the Department of Justice. Since a special prosecutor would serve the public interest, the requirements for appointing a special prosecutor under 28 CFR 600.1 [text] are met.

This report constitutes the final version of the same document released [JURIST report] in January, but contains additional evidence of abuses. In March, the CIA admitted to destroying 92 tapes [JURIST report] of interrogations of the "high-value" detainees. Human rights groups have called [AI report] for the prosecution of senior Bush administration officials for their use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Such calls gained traction in late December, when the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] alleged [report] that top Bush officials, including former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST news archive], "bore major responsibility" for the abuses committed by US interrogators in military detention centers.

 

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