February 25, 2009 – On the Senate floor today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that his committee will hold a hearing next week to discuss proceeding with a “truth commission” to investigate the abuses of power of the Bush administration. Next week’s hearing will likely focus on how an independent commission could be constituted and the scope of the issues it would examine.
Leahy first proposed the idea of a truth commission earlier this month at a speech at Georgetown University. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has already introduced legislation, H.R. 104, to create a similar commission.
The ACLU is calling for a three-pronged approach to investigating abuses of power under the Bush administration. In addition to the proposed commission, a congressional select committee should be put in place to investigate these matters. This committee would be able to commit the necessary resources and have full subpoena authority to compel individuals with knowledge to come forth. Also, the executive branch should be examining whether prosecutions are appropriate through a Department of Justice special prosecutor.
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
“The ACLU welcomes Senator Leahy’s remarks today on the need to discover how America abandoned the rule of law. But we also call on Congress to establish a select committee and for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor. Both the Obama administration and Congress have an obligation to conduct investigations in order to achieve accountability and to ensure these egregious errors will not happen again. In order for America to move forward and put torture and abuse behind us, we must know how our nation was led astray.”