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Putting Truth on Hold?


Published August 24, 2009 at 4:38 p.m.

Today's news that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether some prisoners may have been tortured by CIA personnel or contractors could put the kibosh on Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) call for a nonpartisan "Truth Commission."

Earlier this year, Leahy said only a nonpartisan commission could get to the bottom of the allegations that the Bush administration had condoned torture on prisoners in its custody.

In a statement Leahy said he is hopeful Holder's probe will put to rest questions about whether the U.S. violated international anti-torture laws.

“I recognize how difficult this decision has been for Attorney General Holder, and I am grateful that the Justice Department is finally being led by an independent attorney general who is willing to begin investigating this dark chapter in our country’s history," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Leahy thought his approach was best — he offered it as a way to something, as opposed to nothing. The idea, however, failed to attract support from Republicans.

"While I still believe that a nonpartisan, independent review is the best way to get the full picture of how our laws were applied or broken," Leahy added, "I hope this investigation will also bring a measure of accountability to the American people in holding responsible those whose decisions may have undermined our values and our laws."

In a story about Holder's appointment, the Washington Post said the special prosecutor will have a narrow scope — focusing largely on CIA personnel. There was no mention of focusing on former Bush administration officials who authorized the so-called "harsh interrogation techniques."