Brennan Center Urges President Obama to Support an Independent Commission
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Susan Lehman, (212) 998-6318
Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, (212) 998-6289 or (646) 265-7721
Brennan Center Issues Letter to Rally Support for Investigation
New York – Today, the Brennan Center for Justice distributed the following letter to gain support for a non-partisan investigation into this country's counter-terrorism policy. To arrange an interview with Fritz Schwarz, chief counsel at the Brennan Center, contact Susan Lehman or Jeanine Plant-Chirlin.
It is now clear that our nation violated the rule of law and the Constitution in the fight against terrorism. Torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition are the most vividly visible examples. Yet the public still does not fully know what went wrong as well as what went right.
Some urge prosecutions; others urge doing nothing. There is another approach, proposed by the Brennan Center for Justice in testimony before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees last summer. Our chief counsel, Fritz Schwarz, proposed an independent non-partisan commission—modeled after the 9/11 commission—to explore and expose violations of the rule of law in counter-terrorism policy. The full proposal is here.
This approach now has been embraced by the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Rep. John Conyers has introduced legislation to launch such a probe. Yesterday, in a powerful speech at Georgetown University, Sen. Patrick Leahy rejected the path of prosecutions or of doing nothing. He said:
There is another option that we might also consider, a middle ground. A middle ground to find the truth. We need to get to the bottom of what happened—and why—so we make sure it never happens again....One path to that goal would be a reconciliation process and truth commission. We could develop and authorize a person or group of people universally recognized as fair minded, and without axes to grind. Their straightforward mission would be to find the truth. People would be invited to come forward and share their knowledge and experiences, not for purposes of constructing criminal indictments, but to assemble the facts.
Last night, at his press conference, a reporter asked President Obama about Leahy's proposal. The President said, "I will take a look at Senator Leahy's proposal, but my general orientation is to say let's get it right moving forward." Understanding what we got right—and what went wrong—with counter-terrorism efforts is an essential part of our moving forward with policies that protect the country while upholding the Constitution.
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