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Leahy to White House: Ahem, Torture Docs Please

November 7, 2007

Mr. Fred Fielding, Esq.
Counsel to the President
Office of the Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Fielding:

I have not received a reply to the letter I sent to you almost two weeks ago seeking a fuller accounting of this Administration’s legal justifications and policies with regard to torture and interrogation. Another copy of my unanswered October 25, 2007, letter is enclosed.

Over the past few days I have read in the press that there may, in fact, be three legal memoranda from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2005, not just two, that have been withheld from us. Apparently, the Administration has conceded the existence of three such memoranda in court filings this week. Without even an accounting from you and the Administration, it is impossible for me to know.

As I have previously noted, the Committee does not yet have a complete picture of the Administration’s historic position on the legal basis and standards for detention, transfer, and interrogation in connection with counter-terrorism efforts. It is important that you share with the Senate Judiciary Committee all legal opinions on these issues from the Office of Legal Counsel and elsewhere in the Department of Justice and the Administration. I noted in my previous letter that you have not, despite our repeated requests, provided us with the 2005 memoranda that apparently authorize the use of combinations of cruel and extreme practices. We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of my November 15, 2006, request for “any and all Department of Justice directives, memoranda, and/or guidance . . . regarding CIA detention and/or interrogation methods.”

I regret that you did not take the opportunity created with the announced resignation of Alberto Gonzales to work with us to put these matters to rest. The first step would have been disclosure of the legal memoranda still being kept secret from the Senate Judiciary Committee. That has yet to occur. As you have recently witnessed, without these materials and a shared understanding of what the Administration has been doing, is doing, its justifications, its legal analysis, and its purported basis for overriding our laws and treaty obligations, many Members of the Committee remain very concerned.

Much of the controversy and discussion surrounding the Committee’s consideration of the President’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to serve as Attorney General arose from these matters. The Administration’s lack of cooperation greatly contributed to the controversy and ultimately to the opposition to that nomination.




cc: Hon. Arlen Specter