"Levin: I’ve Suggested To Eric Holder That He Should Appoint An Independent Investigator On Torture"
Responding to a question earlier this month, President Obama didn’t rule out the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to “independently investigate” the “greatest crimes” committed by the Bush administration. But he said that his “orientation” was “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” Congressional Democrats, such Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), have said that Congress should continue to investigate Bush’s torture policies regardless of Obama’s plans.
At the Progressive Media Summit on Capitol Hill yesterday, Marcy Wheeler asked Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, about congressional plans to continue investigating torture. “There needs to be, I believe, an accounting of torture in this country,” replied Levin. He then said that he had suggested to Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder that he appoint “an outside person who’s got real credibility” to continue to investigate:
LEVIN: We’re going to try to complete this investigation, at least on the DoD side, Ok. But on the intelligence, the CIA side, that’s going to be up to the Intelligence Committe. I know I suggested to Eric Holder, who will be the next Attorney General despite the delay that took place today, that he select some people or hire an outside person whose got real credibility, perhaps a retired federal judge, to take all the available information, and there’s reams of it.
In December 2008, Levin’s committee released the executive summary of an investigation into the Bush administration’s detainee policy, which concluded that top Bush administration officials “bore major responsibility for the abuses committed by American troops in interrogations.” Levin said yesterday that the full report would be released “in the next couple of weeks.”
LEVIN: The CIA, which you make reference, that investigation will take place, if it takes place — and I think Sen. Cardin…– Anyway, let me give you a general answer first. There needs to be, I believe, an accounting of torture in this country. I — My committee, the Armed Services Committee, which I chair has recently issued a report, which you’re obviously very familiar with, I know you are, about torture at the highest levels. The policies that were put in place at the highest levels of this government. We released the executive summary of that report, and it’s on my website, and I have a copy here with me, I don’t have time, but I have it here with me, I don’t have time to read parts of it. But it does say, to state as the former Secretary of Defense said, or his deputy, that this was just a few people, a few bad apples, that was Wolfowitz, that a few bad apples perpetrated Abu Ghraib is false. The policies of torture were adopted at the highest level. That’s what our report finds. So, we’re going to continue. We’re going to try to complete this investigation, at least on the DoD side, Ok. But on the intelligence, the CIA side, that’s going to be up to the Intelligence Committe.
I know I suggested to Eric Holder, who will be the next Attorney General despite the delay that took place today, that he select some people or hire an outside person whose got real credibility, perhaps a retired federal judge, to take all the available information, and there’s reams of it. Look, the Vice President, the former Vice President of the United States, acknowledged that they engaged in torture. He says that waterboarding’s not torture, he’s wrong. Waterboarding is torture, period. And this administration and Eric Holder has said so. It’s torture and there’s other forms that they engaged in, so what needs to be done, I believe, in addition to finishing the investigation, is for the Attorney General, the new Attorney General, to identify some people in his office to take the existing documentation. The acknowledgment, folks, this is not a very difficult — this is almost like a case in court with an agreed upon statement of facts, that the previous administration acknowledges that they engaged in waterboarding, period. Now, we’ve got a 200 page report, which goes into details, which will be released, we hope, in the next couple of weeks, the full report. But, in the event, we are going to finish our side of the investigation and Intelligence Committee, hopefully, will do the CIA part.