Lee-Wexler Bill Would Study Torture-Wiretap Policies
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Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), and John Conyers (D-MI) yesterday introduced H.Res. 383 to establish a House-only Select Committee to review "national security laws, policies, and practices."
The Select Committee would consist of 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans. The obvious danger is that John Boehner would appoint rightwing ideologues to obstruct and sabotage any serious work.
The scope of the investigation would be broad, but it would focus on policy rather than prosecution.
(b) INVESTIGATIVE JURISDICTION.—The select committee shall study and make recommendations about the effectiveness of past and present United States law enforcement, national security and intelligence activities and the extent, if any, to which unlawful, improper or unauthorized activities were engaged in by or on behalf of any Federal, State, or local government official, including—
(1) the effectiveness and efficiency of past and present law enforcement, and national security and intelligence policies, programs, and activities;
(2) the development and implementation of policies or practices regarding the capture, detention, transfer, extra-judicial rendition, and treatment of individuals by United States Armed Forces, law enforcement and the United States intelligence community, including policies intended to conceal the fact that a person has been detained by, or at the direct request of, the United States;
(3) the development and implementation of policies or practices regarding domestic surveillance activities, or the surveillance of United States persons abroad;
(4) the adequacy of past and present congressional oversight mechanisms and impediments to access to information necessary to conduct proper oversight; and
(5) such other related matters as the committee deems necessary to carry out its responsibilities.
The ACLU welcomed the bill. Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, said
"It is vital that Congress play an active role in uncovering the truth about our government’s failed policies and chart the course for legislative reform to prevent their reoccurrence."
But the ACLU reiterated its support for a Special Prosecutor and urged any Select Committee to "avoid granting any immunity that could thwart the prosecutor’s work."
“Torture is a crime, and no one is above the law,” added Fredrickson. “There is more than enough evidence in the public domain to warrant a criminal investigation.”