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Posts Tagged ‘John Conyers’

Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | February 19, 2010, 5:44PM

In a statement this afternoon, [Friday], House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes “plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”

Conyers, who posted the DOJ documents on his Web site, continued:

“The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch. The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition.”

He announced the committee will hold hearings on the matter.

Here’s the full statement:

“For years, those who approved torture and abuse of detainees have hidden behind legal memos issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel,” Conyers said. “The materials released today make plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch,” Conyers continued. “The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition. While the Department ultimately concluded that the lawyers did not breach their minimum professional obligations, I certainly hold top lawyers at OLC to a higher standard than that, as all Americans should.

“Given the serious nature of the issues raised in this report, the Committee intends to hold hearings on these matters in the very near future.”

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Conyers And Nadler To Holder: We Need Special Torture Prosecutor

Reps. John Conyers and Jerry Nadler want a special prosecutor to investigate whether Bush administration officials committed crimes in ordering and justifying torture policies.

In a just-released letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Democratic lawmakers write:

The authorization and use of interrogation techniques that likely amounted to torture has generated concern and outrage in this country, and has harmed our legal and moral standing in the world. As a country committed to the rule of law, we must investigate and demand accountability for acts of torture committed by or own our behalf (sic). Appointing a special counsel to undertake this task would serve the interests of the department and of the public in ensuring that the necessary investigation is through and impartial, and that the United States fairly investigates serious and credible accusations of misconduct, even where high-ranking government officials may be involved.

Conyers and Nadler are, respectively, the chair of the House Judiciary committee and the chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. As they make clear in their letter, they made similar requests of the two previous Attorneys General over the last few years.

The case for a prosecutor to probe torture — as opposed to a congressional committee or an outside commission, was well laid out recently by George Washington Law professor Johnathan Turley. Only a special prosecutor, Turley argued on MSNBC, will be sufficiently independent to ensure genuine accountability, rather than merely providing political cover.

In recent days, President Obama has backed off the idea of an outside commission, after at first seeming to embrace it. But the special prosecutor idea doesn’t appear to even be on the table.

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Rove agrees to be deposed under oath after three subpoenas

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Wednesday March 4, 2009

The House Judiciary Committee announced late Wednesday afternoon that they had secured the agreement of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to testify in transcribed depositions under threat of perjury.

The Committee did not immediately announce what terms, if any, had been reached with Rove, but said the agreement had been made with representatives of the former Bush Administration.

They did say that they would get access to Administration documents, and that Rove and Miers had agreed to testify publicly if called. But the announcement left open the possibility that Rove and Miers could testify in private.

“The Committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said in a statement.

MORE HERE

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Lawyer says Rove will cooperate with US Attorney firings probe

Raw Story- Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday February 2, 2009

Rove’s lawyer says he’s speaking to investigators about Siegelman; Doesn’t indicate stance on executive privilege

Karl Rove, former President Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff and longtime political adviser, will cooperate with the Department of Justice in its investigation of the firing of nine US attorneys, according to an interview with Rove’s lawyer by Washington, D.C. investigative reporter Murray Waas.

Waas, who spoke with Robert Luskin, Rove’s attorney, was also told that Rove has already spoken with the Justice Department regarding an internal probe of prosecutor misconduct in the jailing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Luskin asserted that Rove would not assert “personal privilege” regarding Siegelman’s case, saying, “At no time has he or will he assert personal privilege in that matter.”

The article, however, did not indicate the level of Rove’s potential cooperation. Though Luskin said Rove wouldn’t assert personal privlege, he did not indicate whether Rove will continue to seek protection under executive privilege. Several days before President Bush left office, the White House instructed Rove not to cooperate with subpoenas or produce documents to Congress relating to the US Attorney firings.

Luskin says Rove has deferred to the White House on such arguments. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) subpoenaed Rove last week to testify to Congress regarding the firings and the Siegelman case.

Luskin did not answer specific questions about what Rove told investigators about Siegelman. But he maintained that Rove had no involvement in his prosecution.

“What Karl has said [to investigators] is entirely consistent with what he has said publicly–that he absolutely nothing to do with this,” Luskin said.

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Our Responsibility

Huffington Post- Rep. John Conyers

Posted January 31, 2009 | 02:23 PM (EST)

The Obama era began in earnest last week, with bold action such as closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and promising to end torture. In its very first days, the new administration has begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding executive branch operations, and has made great strides forward on fundamental challenges such as energy and the environment, and above all the national economic crisis left in the wake of the Bush Presidency. While great challenges and much hard work remain, the way forward is bright and clear.

As we proceed, however, the question remains how best to respond to the severe challenge posed to our constitutional structure, and to our national honor, by the Bush administration’s actions, and in particular its national security programs. Faced with a record of widespread warrantless surveillance inside the United States, brutal interrogation policies condemned by the administration’s own head of the Guantanamo Bay military commissions as torture, and flawed rendition practices that resulted in innocent men being abducted and handed to other countries to face barbaric abuse, what actions will we take to meet our commitment to the rule of law and reclaim our standing as a moral leader among nations?

I have previously explained my view that a full review of the record must be conducted by an experienced and independent prosecutor, and should focus on the senior policymakers and lawyers who ordered and approved these actions. Others, such as my fellow Michigander Senator Carl Levin, have suggested similar measures. This approach is compelled in my opinion by the basic notion that, if crimes were committed, those responsible should be held accountable – after all, is there any principle of American freedom more fundamental than the rule that no person is above the law? If this independent review concludes that the Bush Administration’s legal constructs make prosecution impossible for some, so be it, but the matter should be given a proper look before such judgments are made one way or the other.

Some commentators – including even those firmly opposed to criminal investigation – support the creation of an independent Commission with appropriate clearances and subpoena power to review the existing record, make policy recommendations, and publish an authoritative account of these events. I have introduced a bill in the House that would create such a commission, and I believe this sort of public accounting is critical as well.

There remain those, however, who would have us simply move on. Some fear the consequences of a true accounting, or worry that taking time to reckon with the sins of the past will hinder us in meeting the challenges of the future. Others argue that the facts are already known, and further review will accomplish little. Often, the call for further review of the Bush administration’s actions is dismissed as partisan payback, kicking an unpopular President when he’s down.

I could not disagree more with these views. As a practical matter, I do not believe that empowering a commission or an independent prosecutor would burden the Congress or the executive or would hinder our efforts to meet the challenges of the day. To the contrary, allowing outside review of these matters by qualified independent experts will free us and President Obama to focus our efforts where they are most needed – on solving the problems before us and improving the lives of the American people.

MORE HERE

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Conyers To Introduce Universal Healthcare Bill Today

Huffington Post- Ryan Grim

January 26, 2009 02:23 PM

John Conyers plans to introduce his universal healthcare legislation today, a Conyers aide tells the Huffington Post. The bill – known last session as H.R. 676 – is a favorite of healthcare reformers who back a single-payer system.

The bill, which will again be H.R. 676, is one of the more elegant to be introduced in the House, clocking in at just a few pages.

The plan is simple: everyone is eligible for a version of Medicare under a new U.S. National Health Insurance Program.

The program would effectively put private insurers out of business. What to do with all those employees? Hire them, says Conyers’ bill.

“The Program shall provide that clerical, administrative, and billing personnel in insurance companies, doctors offices, hospitals, nursing facilities, and other facilities whose jobs are eliminated due to reduced administration (1) should have first priority in retraining and job placement in the new system; and (2) shall be eligible to receive 2 years of unemployment benefits.”

Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, last introduced his bill, which garnered 93 cosponsors, in February 2007. It was referred to committee but never given a hearing.

If the 647-page House stimulus bill was too much to get through, try Conyers’ out.

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Conyers On Prosecuting Bush Team: “Stay Tuned”

January 9, 2009 10:08 AM

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

Rep. John Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is still invested in prosecuting members of the Bush administration once they leave office.

In an interview on the “Bill Press Show” Friday, the Michigan Democrat floated the notion that the Bush team’s illegal wiretapping, torture, detention, and other practices could land some members in an international tribunal.

“I don’t want to get too speculative on that, because it’s still under review,” said Conyers on the radio show. “Now, remember, violation of the federal criminal code doesn’t end because you leave office. If a crime has been committed and there seems to be reasonable evidence that it did get committed, there’s nothing for a person to be prosecuted… Leaving office doesn’t free you up from what you may have done wrong … Anyone that leaves office, including [the] President … there’s the World Court … They have tribunals … This thing is not over with. As they say: Stay tuned.”

MORE HERE

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