May 5, 2009

Durbin, Whitehouse Statement on Status of Justice Department Investigation of Torture Authorizations

Washington, D.C. – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent them a letter regarding the status of the department’s investigation of torture authorizations.

“We are heartened to learn that the Department of Justice’s internal review of the legal authorization for torture by lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel is nearing an end.”

“According to a letter we received from DOJ last night, the lawyers under investigation had the opportunity to submit comments to a draft report – comments which were due yesterday.”

“While we are disappointed to learn that DOJ allowed Stephen Bradbury to participate in OLC’s ‘review and response’ to the report – despite the fact that he played a leading role in drafting the memos under review – we look forward to the prompt completion of this report, and we are pleased by the strong implication in the letter that former OPR chief Marshall Jarrett’s pledge to release the report will be honored.”

“We will be interested in the scope of the ‘substantive comment’ the CIA is providing, and the reasons why an outside agency would have such comment on an internal disciplinary matter.”

In March, Durbin and Whitehouse wrote to the Office of Professional Responsibility asking for an update on the status of the investigation. The investigation, requested by Durbin and Whitehouse over a year ago, was completed before the end of the Bush Administration, but then Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to its release.

Durbin and Whitehouse, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have both expressed deep concern about the use of waterboarding and other abusive interrogation techniques. They have repeatedly questioned the legality of the procedures and circumstances in which they were authorized.

Copies of the letters to Durbin and Whitehouse are attached.


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