Menu
Home

Politics

Politics

Leahy Pushes Commission to Probe Interrogations, Finds Little Support

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Wednesday that he wants to form a bipartisan commission to investigate Bush-era interrogation policies. 

But Leahy said separate congressional investigations will go forward, including his own committee's. And Senate Democratic aides made clear that the call for an independent, bipartisan commission is probably dead on arrival. 

"There's no way in hell," one aide told FOX News. Democrats fear such a commission would look like a partisan witch hunt, as no Republican to date has voiced support for such an undertaking. 

Still, Democrats on Wednesday defended the call for probes into the drafting and use of harsh interrogation techniques, a day after President Obama opened the door for potential prosecution of those lawyers who justified the tactics in legal memos. 

"I'm not one who feels we should turn the page if you haven't read the page," Leahy said. 

"One way or another there needs to be a careful review and a public accounting of these troublesome policies," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement, adding that the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe should yield a lot of the answers Americans are looking for. "And I think issues of prosecution are principally the responsibility of the Justice Department to evaluate."

An aide to Leahy said the senator was talking to Republican colleagues behind the scenes to try to build support for an independent commission, something Obama says he would back.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, though, suggested the Justice Department is the best entity to examine the issue. 

"I think that the lawyers that are involved are plenty capable of determining whether any law has been broken," he said. "I want to stress that that determination is not going to be made by the president, or the vice president, or anybody that works in the White House, because that's why many, many, many, many moons ago we created a Department of Justice."

Meanwhile, Circuit Court Judge Jay Bybee, a lawyer in the Bush Justice Department responsible for some of the legal opinions that buttressed the use of harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, or mock drowning, is coming under increased fire in the Congress. 

Several House members are talking about bringing possible impeachment proceedings against the judge.

Leahy told reporters, "That's up to the House," but said he believes Bybee should resign. 

"Had he given the full truth to the committee, he would never have been confirmed. I would think the decent and honorable thing for him to do is to resign," he said.