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Archive for the ‘Patrick Leahy’ Category

Senate Chairman says he’d investigate Democrats who backed Bush policies

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Monday February 23, 2009

In little noticed one-line remark on Sunday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) endorsed the investigation of Democrats who approved of President George W. Bush’s policies as president that he aims to review as part of a “truth commission.”

The veteran Democrat has floated the idea of a “truth commission” to probe and put to rest alleged Bush Administration constitutional abuses, in areas such as wiretapping and harsh interrogation. Those who participated would likely be granted immunity from prosecution so long as their testimony is truthful, mirroring similar venues of public catharsis as were practiced in South Africa and Chile in previous decades.

Speaking to the New York Times’ Scott Shane, “Mr. Leahy said he has learned that the temptation to abuse powers in a crisis is bipartisan and the commission’s review should include the role of Democrats in Congress in approving the Bush policies. The work should be done in one year, he added, to avert accusations that it was being dragged out for political gain.”

Leahy’s commission has attracted unusual followers. While receiving a tepid response from President Barack Obama — who said he was “more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards” — former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he would cooperate if calling to speak.

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Sudhan @16:00 CET

This Abu Ghraib detainee was reportedly threatened with electrocution if he fell.
This Abu Ghraib detainee was reportedly threatened with electrocution if he fell.

By Patrick Leahy, Time, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

More than 30 years ago, a special Senate investigation peered into abuses that included spying on the American people by their own government.

The findings by Senator Frank Church’s committee, drawn from testimony spanning 800 witnesses and thousands of pages of government documents, revealed how powerful government surveillance tools were misused against the American people. For instance, the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation spent more than two decades searching in vain for communist influence in the NAACP and infiltrated domestic groups that, for example, advocated for women’s rights. The Church committee’s work led to creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and later to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act–reforms that largely held until the Bush years. (See George W. Bush’s biggest economic mistakes.)

The parallels with today are clear, and so are the lessons. Then, as in recent years, some were willing, in the name of security, to trade away the people’s rights as if they were written in sand, not stone. For much of this decade, we have read about and witnessed such abuses as the scandal at Abu Ghraib, the disclosure of torture memos and the revelations about the warrantless surveillance of Americans.

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Leahy: Investigate Bush Now

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

February 9, 2009 11:44 AM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy insisted on Monday in firm and passionate terms that a comprehensive investigation be launched into the conduct of the Bush administration, saying anything less would prevent the country from moving forward.

Speaking at a forum at Georgetown University, the Vermont Democrat suggested the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission to uncover the “misdeeds” of the past eight years.

“Many Americans feel we need to get to the bottom of what went wrong,” said Leahy. “I agree. We need to be able to read the page before we turn the page.”

The Senator also stated that Attorney General Eric Holder never gave assurances to Republican Senators that he would not prosecute Bush administration officials who may have been involved in illegalities such as authorizing torture or warrantless wiretapping.

“There are some who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past,” he said. “Indeed, during the nomination hearing of Eric Holder, some of my fellow Senators on the other side of the aisle tried to extract a devil’s bargain from him in exchange for the votes — a commitment that he would not make… That is a pledge no prosecutor should give and Eric Holder did not give it. But because he did not it accounts for some of the votes against him.”

At one point, Leahy slammed the lectern with his right fist, underscoring the emotion he brought to the debate. His remarks referred to claims that Holder had provided Republicans on the Judiciary Committee a pledge not to prosecute Bush officials — claims that the Obama administration denied.

Leahy framed his commission idea — which he had not discussed publicly prior to Monday — as a middle ground of sorts between those who adamantly oppose investigations and those who say “we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker.”

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