Published December 24, 2015
WASHINGTON -- The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday she hopes public outrage over Bush-era interrogation methods subsides so Congress can calmly investigate the issue.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she wants congressional hearings to move forward on the interrogation techniques. The memos detailed waterboarding, a simulated drowning tactic, and other techniques used on a captured suspected Al Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammad.
The California Democrat said her committee already was investigating the methods detailed, but Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wants independent investigators to determine whether any Bush administration officials should be prosecuted.
"I have recommended that the Department of Justice select one or two or three people outside of the department who will have credibility, perhaps retired federal judges, who will make a recommendation to the Department of Justice as to whether or not anybody ought to be prosecuted on this matter or any other action ought to be taken against lawyers, for instance," Levin said on "FOX News Sunday."
He added that he objects to the idea that the interrogators who carried out the tactics should be the only ones prosecuted.
"For the president of the United States to say that a few American troops dishonored us at Abu Ghraib -- no. What dishonored us were the policies and practices that were authorized that went to Abu Ghraib, and there ought to be accountability. But how that is done should be done by an independent person, not by elected politicians," he said.
Feinstein said White House didn't contact her before releasing the memos. But a White House adviser said nothing in the memos is new to the American public. Top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett said the Obama administration released the documents so the country could move forward.
Jarrett said the president has decided it's up to Attorney General Eric Holder, whose former law firm has defended 17 Guantanamo Bay detainees, to determine who -- if anyone -- should be prosecuted for harsh interrogation methods.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs agreed it should be left to the attorney general to decided about prosecutions.
"The president doesn't open or close the door on criminal prosecutions of anybody in this country, because the legal determination of who knowingly breaks the law in any instance is one not made by the president of the United States," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Gibbs also opposed the notion of a "truth commission" or other independent group to investigate the attorneys.
"I think this administration believes strongly that if a review is to take place the one that is currently being done by the (Senate) intelligence committee is the appropriate place," he said.
Jarrett and Feinstein appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" program.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.