April 22, 2009 – 12:42 p.m.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said Wednesday that if Republicans do not back an independent commission to investigate the George W. Bush administration’s detainee interrogation program, he will launch a committee probe.
“If we can’t get a bipartisan commission to do this then we’ll do it in the usual way,” Leahy said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has its own investigation under way. The Armed Services Committee released a lengthy report Tuesday on the interrogation program.
Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, has been a leading proponent of establishing an independent commission, but Republicans oppose it.
President Obama on Tuesday signaled a new openness to an independent commission, and said he preferred that to individual committee investigations.
Republicans at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing challenged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over Obama’s comments about potential prosecution of former administration officials over interrogation issues.
“I’m greatly concerned about reports that the administration may have changed our policy on investigating and possibly prosecuting former administration officials,” said ranking Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. “This is an extremely negative development, when we need to work together to counter extremist Islamic militants who seek our destruction.”
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