Hearing on Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry

A New York Times editorial today discusses two important developments this week: the admission that the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes of interrogation, and the release by the Justice Department of a number of OLC memos that former President Bush used to justify “mangling the Constitution after Sept. 11, 2001.” These are important steps towards making good on the promise of greater transparency, but the Times argues that much more transparency is needed. The memos released do not include key memos justifying harsh interrogations, nor those justifying the decision to authorize illegal wiretapping. And the admission that 92 tapes have been destroyed begs further scrutiny.

This morning Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is holding a hearing on the creation of a bipartisan inquiry into the range of Bush Administration abuses, a careful debate about how to proceed toward the essential goal: “providing Americans with as much truth and accountability as possible about their government’s actions.” Information about the hearing, including the witness list can be found here.

Among the witnesses testifying today is Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, a member of Human Rights First’s coalition of retired military leaders. Members of this group, including Admiral Gunn, stood behind President Obama as he signed executive orders in January ending torture and closing Guantanamo.

Human Rights First also submitted a statement for the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Work remains to be done to ensure that this administration and future administrations do not repeat past mistakes. Providing policymakers and the public with a clear picture of past policies and practices and their consequences for national security is essential to inoculate against future abuses and to inform responsible forward looking policies.

Read the full statement here.


Published on March 4, 2009


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