After about a year, probably more, my congressman wrote me back today in response to a letter I’d forgotten sending him. Here’s what he wrote back:
That’s the gist of it. Here’s the long version:
June 10, 2010
Dear Mr. Swanson,
Thank you for contacting me with regard to initiating an inquiry into the policies of the Bush-Cheney Administration and any possible criminal infractions. I appreciate hearing from you and value your input in developing sound policies that benefit the citizens of Virginia’s 5th district and our nation.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers (D-MI), is considering a number of options for investigating personnel and policies of the Bush Administration. Chairman Conyers included in a foreword to a report issued by the Judiciary staff, “While I understand there is a powerful desire to simply move on and focus on the many large issues facing us, we simply cannot sweep these matters under the rug of history without addressing them head on.” The report, issued on January 13, 2009, recommended launching a full-scale investigation by the Obama Administration into “previously unreviewable activities of the Bush Administration including detention, enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition, ghosting and black sites, and warrantless domestic electronic surveillance.” The full report is available online at http://judiciary.house.gov.
As you may know, in an effort to promote transparency and accountability, on April 16, 2009, the Obama Administration released four Bush-era Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) torture memos. The memos provided the legal framework for the Bush Administration officials’ use of waterboarding and other illegal interrogation methods that violate domestic and international law. Further, they may contain future grounds for prosecution of the OLC lawyers for purposefully distorting the law to support the Bush Administration’s torture program.
In response, the Obama Administration DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility began a federal investigation into the memos and will soon complete a report concerning the former DOJ lawyers who authored them. President Obama has stated that he is open to further investigation into the Bush Administration torture allegations, and that he would be open to the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission to examine the matter. You may be interested to know that Representative Conyers and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have both stated that their Committees will hold independent hearings to further investigate the torture allegations, regardless of whether or not President Obama forms an investigative commission.
I have been a critic of the use of executive power to subvert congressional oversight and legitimize questionable policies. As a Congressman, I am committed to upholding and preserving laws set forth by the Constitution. It is important that we preserve the principles of separation of power and checks and balances in order to assure accountability. I will continue to monitor these investigations with your views in mind.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact my office. To keep informed on the work I do, please visit my website at www.perriello.house.gov and sign up for my newsletter. If I may be of assistance on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress