Leahy: We’ve Been “Kept in the Dark”

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Sen. Patrick Leahy wrote to White House Counsel today, demanding to know why he and his colleague Sen. Jay Rockefeller were “kept in the dark” on the existence of memos from the White House endorsing CIA interrogation practices.

“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,” the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Fred Fielding.

“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.”

If Leahy seems mad, it might be because waking up and finding out that documents you’ve been trying to get full disclosure on for five years are on the front page of a national newspaper, isn’t the best way to start your day.

Full text of letter after the jump.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.