Conyers To Hold Hearings On Torture Memos

Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary committee, has announced that he plans to hold hearings into the Bush-era OLC memos released last week.

Despite his pledge to hold hearings in his own committee, Conyers said he agrees with President Obama’s statement that he favors a probe conducted by a bipartisan commission, rather than solely by a congressional committee.Here’s the full statement that Conyers’s office just put out:

Recently disclosed legal memoranda from the former Bush Administration raise grave legal, ethical, and constitutional questions. The use of tactics described in these memos runs counter not only to basic notions of decency, but places our own prisoners of war at risk and weakens our national security. And the fact that these memos were authored and approved by senior lawyers of the Department of Justice challenges the very notion that we adhere to the Rule of Law in this country.

The Office of Professional Responsibility will soon complete a report concerning the former Justice Department lawyers who wrote these memos. The Judiciary Committee will subsequently hold hearings and investigate these matters. If the OPR report is delayed further, we will have hearings in the near term in any event. Critical questions remain concerning how these memos came into existence and were approved, which our committee is uniquely situated to consider.

The President’s comments today on possible approaches to a fuller accounting of these matters are exactly right – further comprehensive review of the Bush Administration anti-terror policies will be most valuable and successful if done in a truly apolitical and bipartisan manner. Having introduced legislation to establish just such a non-partisan truth-telling Commission on the very first day of this Congress, that is the approach I have long favored. It has already won bipartisan endorsement and support both within and outside of government.

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