Senate GOP Bails on Bush-era Interrogations Review


Senate Republicans have pulled their staff from an Intelligence Committee investigation of Bush Administration detention and interrogation policies and tactics, angered by a DOJ inquiry that could ensnare former interrogators.


Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, top committee Republican, issued a statement to Fox, saying, "Had (Attorney General Eric) Holder honored the pledge made by the President to look forward not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee’s review.  Instead, DOJ sent a loud and clear message that previous decisions to decline prosecution mean nothing and old criminal charges can be brought anytime against anyone—against these odds, what current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the Committee’s questions?"


Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, issued her own statement, saying, "I very much regret the fact that the Republican side of the Intelligence Committee has chosen not to continue to participate in the Committee’s study and investigation into the detention and interrogation of high-value detainees. However, that study and investigation is being pursued, additional staff are being hired, and the Committee is continuing the work with all due diligence.”


Bond voiced concern that any lack of witnesses would hinder the investigation and went on in his statement to say, "While there is value to learning from past experiences, there are other areas in need of current congressional oversight, including the war in Afghanistan, Iran’s intentions with respect to ballistic missiles, and expiring FISA terror fighting tools.  The Committee cannot give these matters sufficient attention if we are spinning our wheels in an endless document review." 

While the White House had signaled a willingness to move on with no "looking back" inquiries, Holder decided in August to appoint longtime prosecutor John Durham to lead a preliminary inquiry into a handful of cases, including one in which a detainee died in captivity.


Earlier this month, seven former CIA directors, who's tenures span 35 years, asked President Obama to quash the inquiry, but President Obama made it clear recently, he will not overrule his Attorney General.


"I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look out for an institution that they helped to build. But I continue to believe that nobody is above the law," Obama said on CBS' Face the Nation.  "I want to make sure that as president of the United States that I'm not asserting in some way that my decisions overrule the decisions of prosecutors who are there to uphold the law." 


Congress has extended legal immunity to interrogators who acted with "good-faith reliance on advice of counsel."