08.19.08

Leahy, Specter Press White House For OLC Torture Documents

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, August 19, 2008) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today pressed the White House to respond to outstanding requests from members of Congress for information about legal analysis and advice related to detention and interrogation policies provided to the administration by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

The Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction includes oversight of the offices within the Department of Justice, including OLC.  Leahy, Specter and other members of the Judiciary Committee have sought access to OLC documents concerning the administration’s controversial detention and interrogation policies.  The Office of Legal Counsel has provided memorandums, letters and legal advice to agencies within the Executive Branch about interrogation techniques, interpretations of the Geneva Conventions, and liability concerns for interrogators, but the White House has provided only a limited number of redacted, classified documents to Congress.  In a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Leahy and Specter again pushed the White House to provide the Committee with the requested documents. 

“After more than five years of requests, we have only recently received access to redacted versions of OLC legal opinions related to the CIA’s interrogation program,” Leahy and Specter wrote.  “The failure to provide other documents that we have sought repeatedly, however, leaves us without basic facts that are essential to this Committee’s ability to conduct its oversight responsibilities.”

Leahy’s first request for such documents dates back to June 2003.  Additional requests were made by Leahy, Specter, and other Committee members in May, June, October, and December 2004, January 2005, November 2006, October 2007, and most recently in July during an oversight hearing with Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

“We have now reviewed the classified OLC documents you have provided us,” Leahy and Specter wrote.  “The information redacted from these documents leaves us unable to understand how statutes within this Committee’s jurisdiction are being interpreted…We therefore request unredacted versions of all of these documents.”

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