Leahy Again Presses White House For Torture Documents

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent a letter Wednesday to the White House again pressing for disclosure of White House and Justice Department documents and materials related to the government’s use of torture, including the technique known as waterboarding.  A press account in The Washington Postrevealed the existence of two previously undisclosed White House memoranda to the CIA from 2003 and 2004.  Neither the Senate Judiciary Committee nor the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were made aware of the existence of the memoranda.  In a letter sent Wednesday to White House counsel Fred Fielding, Leahy requested information about existing materials that have not yet been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  For more than five years, Leahy has pressed the White House and the Justice Department for documents related to the legal justifications of the administration’s detainee interrogation program.  In September, the Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas for the documents from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel pertaining to the program. 


The text of Leahy’s letter to Fielding follows.  A PDF is also available online.


October 15, 2008


Mr. Fred Fielding, Esq.

Counsel to the President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500


Dear Mr. Fielding:


You and I have communicated several times about the Judiciary Committee’s oversight and legislative interest in the Government’s use of torture, such as waterboarding, and other harsh interrogation practices.  Most recently, Senator Specter and I wrote to you in August, again seeking materials about the legal justification for these practices.  In your August 22 response, you refused our requests while claiming that the White House has been most accommodating to this Committee and to the Congress in its inquiries on these matters.  Several Judiciary Committee Republicans went so far as to rely on your letter while contending that the White House had been forthcoming and there was no need to subpoena Department of Justice materials that have been withheld during the last five years. 


I now read in The Washington Post that the White House issued two previously undisclosed memoranda to the CIA in 2003 and 2004.   It is disturbing to be reminded, at this late date, of the stonewalling, misdirection and lack of accountability that has characterized this administration from its first days in office.  Not only did those White House memoranda  come as a surprise to me and the Senate Judiciary Committee, but I see from Chairman Rockefeller’s reaction that he was kept in the dark, as well. 


I would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible regarding what additional materials exist that have not been shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee.  







cc: The Honorable Arlen Specter


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