Saturday, November 18, 2006

Leahy to DOJ: Turn over the Torture Documents

Patrick Leahy, the incoming Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the Justice Department to turn over documents relating to the administration's detention and interrogation policies:

The CIA recently acknowledged the existence of the documents in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The first is a directive President Bush signed giving the CIA authority to establish detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees.

The second is a 2002 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA's general counsel regarding interrogation methods that the spy agency may use against al-Qaeda leaders.

These documents were not among the documents relating to the treatment of detainees that the Bush administration sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

The documents, the subject of months of speculation by observers and critics of America's national security policies, were confirmed to exist by the ACLU as the result of a still-pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

One of those documents is believed to be a companion piece to the now-infamous August 2002 memorandum which redefined torture and, as a result, broadened the range of interrogation tactics permitted in the field.

The companion document, the so-called "Yoo Two" document (named after legal counsel John Yoo) is believed to contain a list of actual techniques that have been approved by the Department of Justice -- and which are therefore legally protected interrogation methods used by intelligence operatives against suspected terrorists.

A press release issued today contends that Leahy "had previously requested all documents relating to the treatment of detainees from the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Defense."

Those requests have turned up numerous controversial memos and reports detailing the handling of so-called enemy combatants by U.S. soldiers and intelligence officials, but the now-uncovered documents were never included.

That omission, says a source close to the Judiciary Committee, has angered the senator.

Will it anger him enough to subpoena the documents when (not if) the Justice Department refuses to turn them over? We shall see.

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