Senators Write Letters & Demand Torture Docs

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The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee Jay Rockefeller writes to acting attorney general Peter Keisler, asking why the New York Times has copies of secret torture memoes that the Justice Department has so far refused to turn over to the appropriate Congressional oversight committees, among them his.

Letter below:

October 4, 2007

The Honorable Peter D. Keisler
Acting Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Mr. Acting Attorney General:

The New York Times published an article today entitled “Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations” that describes the classified opinions provided by the Department of Justice on the legality of the CIA’s interrogation practices, as well as the internal deliberations surrounding those classified opinions. As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence I have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to provide those classified opinions; the Department of Justice has never provided a formal response.

This letter reiterates my longstanding request for the opinions of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel analyzing the legality of the CIA’s interrogation program. In particular, please provide the principal classified Office of Legal Counsel opinions issued since December of 2004 on the legality of CIA’s interrogation program. This should include Office of Legal Counsel opinions assessing the legality of the CIA’s practices under section 2340A of the U.S. criminal code, which implements the Convention Against Torture; the substantive provisions of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture; the Detainee Treatment Act; Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; and the War Crimes Act, as amended by the Military Commissions Act.

The Department of Justice’s failure to provide the Intelligence Committee with any of the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinions on the CIA’s interrogation program calls into question this Committee’s ability to oversee the CIA’s program. If the Department of Justice refuses to provide even those public officials charged with oversight of the program information that is critical to an appropriate assessment of the program, why should the public have confidence that the program is either legal or in the best interests of the United States? I find it unfathomable that the Committee tasked with oversight of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program would be provided more information by the New York Times than by the Department of Justice.

I appreciate your prompt response.

Sincerely,

John D. Rockefeller IV

Chairman

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