[JURIST] Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile; JURIST news archive] reiterated his calls for a non-partisan truth commission to investigate Bush administration officials responsible for authorizing certain interrogation techniques during an interview [transcript, PDF] with CBS Sunday. Leahy said [CBS report] the focus of the commission should not be vengeance, but rather to investigate the individuals in the Bush administration that authorized the tactics that he claims violated US laws. Leahy suggested that the commission should look into the involvement of members of the Office of Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites], and could even investigate certain members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) [official website; JURIST news archive], who were briefed on the subject. He said:
I know some people say let’s turn the page. Frankly, I’d like to read the page before we turn it. It is not from some idea of vengeance in doing this, but we know that there’re number of people that made the decision to violate the law, a number of people who said that we don’t have to follow our constitution, others who wrote memos basically saying the President and Vice President are above the law–the laws of the United States don’t apply to them like they do to you and me. And I want to know why they did that. What kind of pressures brought them to write things that are so off the wall and to make sure it never happens again. That’s why I want it.
Leahy also indicted that he would welcome former vice president Dick Cheney [JURIST news archive] to come before the Judiciary Committee or the commission, but that he would not subpoena him to do so.
Last week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the Obama administration opposes [JURIST report] the formation of an independent commission to investigate Bush administration interrogation techniques. Earlier that week, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] released a report [JURIST report] by the DOJ indicating that former attorney general John Ashcroft and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in 2002 approved the use of waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives]. Leahy initially called for the creation of a truth commission in February and then again [JURIST reports] during a Judiciary Committee hearing in March. Leahy said the commission would not be focused on preparing criminal indictments, but it should have subpoena powers. The ranking Republican on the committee Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official profile; JURIST news archive] opposed the formation [transcript] of a commission, saying the DOJ, under a new administration, was equipped to handle any such investigation.