Bush Administration Withholding Evidence
About War Crimes
WHILE AMERICANS’ EYES were firmly focused on the election and the economy, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was waging a quiet battle against the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its secret policies on the torture and detention of revolutionary fighters and foreign soldiers labeled as “terrorists.”
Over the summer, Leahy subpoenaed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, demanding that agency officials hand over documents from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel that provided legal analysis and advice to the Bush administration. Leahy followed that subpoena up recently with a public letter demanding to know why it has taken DOJ so long to respond.
“There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee,” wrote Leahy in his letter to Mukasey. “The executive branch should not obstruct Congress from conducting its constitutional oversight and lawmaking duties by making sweeping assertions of secrecy and privilege.”
Leahy has fought an ongoing battle with the White House over its torture and arbitrary detention policies. During Mukasey’s confirmation hearings, Leahy took the opportunity to blast the Bush administration for its unconstitutional policies:
“America needs to be certain and confident of the bedrock principle—deeply embedded in our laws and our values—that no one, not even the president, is above the law.”
Some Congress watchers have further speculated that any documents Leahy obtains could show that Bush administration officials knew their actions were illegal. This could be used as evidence against them should they ever face war crimes hearings over the torture and arbitrary detention of foreign nationals.
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(Issue # 46, November 17, 2008)