Friday, June 18, 2004

Senate Will Not Subpoena Ashcroft for Torture Documents

On a straight party-line vote yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 NOT to subpoena the Justice Department for access to some 23 memos, letters or reports from Sept. 25, 2001, through March of this year on topics that included the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and rules for interrogation.

"... the documents include a memo from Mr. Rumsfeld to Gen. James T. Hill, the senior officer of the Southern Command, dated April 2003 and titled, 'Coercive interrogation techniques that can be used with approval of the Defense Secretary.' Another memo dated Jan. 4, 2004, written by the top legal adviser to Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior American commander in Iraq, and sent to military intelligence and police personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison, is titled, 'New plan to restrict Red Cross access to Abu Ghraib.' " (From the New York Times coverage.)

Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urged committee members to vote against the subpoena: "We should not reveal our interrogation techniques to our enemies," said Senator Hatch. "There must be some reasonable limits on what can and should be disclosed by the executive branch to Congress and the public about the war against terrorism."

There's nothing as frightening, apparently, as information, especially when it involves the unconstitutional use of force by an American government currently up for reelection.

Observing the willful ignorance of Orrin Hatch makes me think of Kathleen Turner eyeing William Hurt in "Body Heat" and observing: "You're not very smart, are you. I like that in a man." The Bush Justice Department certainly likes Orrin Hatch!

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