Dems tell Justice Dept. to examine Bush admin about torture
Nearly 60 House Democrats want a special counsel created within the Justice Department to determine whether top Bush administration officials have committed crimes in authorizing the use of harsh interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists, Joby Warrick reported for the Washington Post Saturday.
In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the lawmakers cited what they said was "mounting evidence" that senior officials personally sanctioned the use of waterboarding and other aggressive tactics against detainees in U.S.-run prisons overseas, according to the article.
"This [new] information indicates that the Bush administration may have systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law," it said. The letter was signed by 59 House Democrats, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
The Bush administration first admitted to the authorization of waterboarding in February and later defended it as a legal interrogation method that has saved American lives, the Associated Press reported.
A spokesman said President Bush could authorize waterboarding for future terrorism suspects if certain criteria are met, according to the article.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the Sept. 11 attackers whose arraignment began Thursday, was one of three Guantanamo detainees subjected to waterboarding, The New York Times reported.
Mr. Bush’s administration appears to have calculated that many Americans, if not most, do not necessarily object to harsh interrogations or eavesdropping if they were used to prevent further attacks, The New York Times reported in an analysis of the detainees' trial.
At a fund-raiser on Friday in Pennsylvania, Vice President Dick Cheney, pictured above, vigorously defended the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, referring to them as “a tougher program for a very few tougher customers.”
“He and others were questioned at a time when another attack on this country was believed to be imminent,” Mr. Cheney said of Mr. Mohammed and other Qaeda members. “It’s a good thing we had them in custody, and it is a good thing that we found out what they knew.”