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House Judiciary Committee chair urges probe into Bush administration abuses
House Judiciary Committee chair urges probe into Bush administration abuses

[JURIST] The Bush administration engaged in numerous abuses [press release], and the incoming Obama administration should launch a criminal investigation to find out whether any laws were violated, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by US House Judiciary Committee [official website] Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) [official website]. In the nearly 500-page report, Conyers points to allegations of torture and inhumane treatment, extraordinary rendition, warrantless domestic surveillance, CIA leaks, and the firing of US attorneys for political reasons. Conyers outlines 47 recommendations, including a full investigation. Conyers wrote:

The purpose of the … investigations is not payback, but to uphold the rule of law, allow us to learn from our national mistakes, and prevent them from recurring. Such an effort would be a welcome sign to our friends, and a warning to our foes, that this Nation can indeed serve as a beacon of liberty and freedom without weakening our ability to combat terrorism or other threats. The Report makes clear that even after scores of hearings, investigations, and reports, Congress and the American public still do not have answers to some of the most fundamental questions concerning the Bush Imperial Presidency.

Conyers said that his staff has met with Obama's transition team regarding the report, but Obama's team has not endorsed it.

Obama said during an interview [ABC transcript] broadcast Sunday that he has not ruled out prosecuting officials [JURIST report] for rights abuses committed under the Bush administration. He also said, "we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past." Human rights groups, including Amnesty International [advocacy website], have called [Amnesty report] for the prosecution of senior Bush administration officials for a series of abuses, ranging from the mishandling of the Iraqi war to the illegal detention of terrorist suspects in Guantanamo and secret prisons. 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 [official profile], "bore major responsibility" for the abuses committed by US interrogators in military detention centers.