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TMCNet:  Durbin, Whitehouse Seek Additional Information Regarding Justice Department Investigation of Torture Authorizations

[April 01, 2009]

Durbin, Whitehouse Seek Additional Information Regarding Justice Department Investigation of Torture Authorizations

Apr 01, 2009 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- [WASHINGTON, D.C.] - Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter today to the Justice Department, inquiring about an internal investigation of attorneys who provided legal advice regarding waterboarding and other abusive interrogation techniques.

Today's letter is in response to revelations that former Justice Department officials Jay Bybee, John Yoo, and Steven Bradbury, the targets of the internal investigation, were given the opportunity to review and comment on the investigators' findings, and that the investigators may alter their findings in response to these comments, which seems to be a sharp break from the Justice Department's normal practice. The new revelations were contained in a letter from the Justice Department that Durbin and Whitehouse also released today.

"Your letter confirms that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigation was completed before the end of the Bush Administration, and that then Attorney General Michael Mukasey provided OPR's draft report to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

"While OPR often notifies an attorney of the allegations against her and the conclusion of the investigation, and provides the report on its findings and conclusions to the attorney's component head, it appears that it is a departure from normal OPR practice to provide an opportunity for the attorney to review and comment on the report.

"We are concerned that the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, and ultimately Congress, will review a report that has undergone significant revisions at the behest of the subjects of the investigation without the benefit of reviewing OPR's initial draft report," wrote Durbin and Whitehouse in a letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General M. Faith Burton.

31-03-2009Last month, Durbin and Whitehouse wrote to the Office of Professional Responsibility asking for an update on the status of the investigation. The investigation, requested by Durbin and Whitehouse over a year ago, was completed before the end of the Bush Administration, but then Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to its release.


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