Congressional Record: December 7, 2004 (Senate)
Page S11868-S11869                       


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, soon after we return in January, the Senate 
Judiciary Committee will begin consideration of the nomination of 
Alberto Gonzales for the position of Attorney General of the United 
States. I met with Judge Gonzales on November 17, soon after his 
designation as the President's nominee. I had that meeting in 
preparation for our hearings. I look forward to working with Senator 
Specter and the other members of the Judiciary Committee to assure a 
prompt and fair and thorough hearing on this important nomination in 
early January.
  There is no secret that Judge Gonzales will be called upon to explain 
not only his vision of what the role of the Attorney General should be, 
but also how he would distinguish it from that of the White House 
Counsel. And he is also going to be asked about the role he has played 
in formulating the administration's policy on the treatment and 
interrogation of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas.
  The scandal of Abu Ghraib, allegations of mistreatment in Guantanamo, 
investigations and charges from cases in Iraq and Afghanistan are 
serious matters. There are lingering questions. There is unresolved 
accountability left in their wake.
  The Bush administration circled the wagons long ago. It has 
continually maintained that the abuses were simply the work of a few 
bad apples. But we know that the photos from Abu Ghraib do not depict 
an isolated incident. Abuses have occurred in many locations, including 
Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and in a number of other facilities within 
  I have long said that somewhere in the upper reaches of the executive 
branch, a process was set in motion that rolled forward until it 
produced this scandal. Even without a truly independent investigation, 
we now know the responsibility for abuse runs very high into the chain 
of command. Senior officials in the White House, the Justice 
Department, and the Pentagon set in motion a systematic effort to 
minimize, distort, and even ignore laws, policies, and agreements on 
torture and the treatment of prisoners. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and 
later LTG Ricardo Sanchez authorized the use of techniques that were 
contrary to both U.S. military manuals and international law.
  Former CIA Director Tenet requested, and Secretary Rumsfeld approved, 
the secret detention of a ghost detainee in Iraq so he could be hidden 
from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  These issues, especially when they involve the greatest democracy 
history has known, are a significant concern. But there are also issues 
in which the administration has been far less than forthcoming. In 
letters dated May 17 and June 15 of this year, long before the fall 
elections, long before the resignation of John Ashcroft, and long 
before he was designated by the President as nominee, I asked Judge 
Gonzales to describe his role in both the interpretation of the law and 
the development of policies that led to what I and many others 
considered to have been a disregard for the rule of law. Those letters 
of May 17 and June 15 remain unanswered as of today.
  I have repeatedly emphasized to Judge Gonzales the need for 
responsiveness and accountability in these matters. Last Friday, I sent 
Judge Gonzales a letter reiterating my concerns. I emphasized the 
importance of full disclosure during this confirmation process.
  I urge him to cooperate, to cooperate now with all members of the 
Judiciary Committee on both sides of the aisle on the full range of 
issues of oversight and accountability that come before us. That is 
something his predecessor did not do. That lack of oversight on the 
part of the Senate, the lack of accountability and lack of 
responsiveness on the part of the administration, should not continue.
  I ask unanimous consent to have my December 3, 2004, letter to Judge 
Gonzales printed in the Record.
  There being no objection the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                      U.S. Senate,

                                   Committee on the Judiciary,

                                 Washington, DC, December 3, 2004.
     Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales,
     Counsel to the President, the White House, Washington, DC.
       Dear Judge Gonzales: I enjoyed our preliminary meeting and 
     look forward to your confirmation hearings. In following up 
     on our meeting, and to give you and your staff ample 
     opportunity to prepare for the hearings, I write to reiterate 
     several concerns that I have raised in prior discussions and 
     correspondence. When we met on November 17, 2004, I said that 
     these issues will be raised, by myself and other members of 
     the Senate Judiciary Committee, during the upcoming hearings. 
     Based on our conversation, I am encourage by your willingness 
     to answer questions about you role and your views in these 
       Photographs and reports of prisoner abuse in Iraq and other 
     locations show an interrogation and detention system 
     operating contrary to U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions. In 
     addition to the abhorrent images from the Abu Ghraib prison 
     that were published last spring, actions that have occurred 
     with Administration approval include the forcible rendition 
     of individuals to nations where they may face torture, and 
     the hiding of ``ghost detainees'' from the International 
     Committee of the Red Cross. Reports of abuse continue to 
     emerge. Just this week, The New York Times reported that the 
     Red Cross has charged U.S. military authorities with using 
     physical and psychological coercion ``tantamount to torture'' 
     on prisoners at Guantamano Bay. The Washington Post is 
     reporting that in December 2003 Army generals in Iraq were 
     warned in a confidential report that members of an elite 
     military and CIA task force were abusing detainees. According 
     to The Post, the report concluded that certain arrest and 
     detention practices could be deemed to be ``technically'' 
       In letters dated May 17 and June 15 of this year, I asked 
     you to describe your role in both the interpretation of the 
     law and the development of policies that led to what I and 
     many other consider to have been a disregard for the rule of 
     law. These letters remain unanswered.
       My concerns regarding the abuse of prisoners in U.S. 
     custody did not begin with these letters. I have been seeking 
     answers from the Administration for well over a year, before 
     the abuses at Abu Ghraib came to light. In a very few cases 
     my questions were answered, but with information that later 
     proved to be less than accurate. For example, in a news 
     conference on June 22, 2004, you stated, ``In Iraq, it has 
     always been U.S. position that Geneva applies. From the early 
     days of the conflict, both the White House and the 
     Department of Defense have been very public and clear 
     about that.''
       However, an October 24, 2004, article in The Washington 
     Post revealed yet another Justice Department memo authorizing 
     actions that potentially violate the Geneva Conventions. The 
     draft memo, dated March 19, 2004, apparently was written to 
     authorize the CIA to transfer detainees out of Iraq for 
     interrogation--a practice expressly prohibited by the Geneva 
     Conventions. According to the memo's cover letter, it was 
     drafted at your request.
       In another example, a June 25, 2003, letter from Department 
     of Defense General Counsel William Haynes stated that the 
     United States was adhering to its international obligations 
     including those under the Convention Against Torture. We 
     later learned of an August 1, 2002, Department of Justice 
     memorandum that twisted the definition of torture in 
     unrecognizable ways. That memo was addressed to your. We also 
     learned months

[[Page S11869]]

     later of the rendition of a Canadian-Syrian citizen to Syria, 
     despite his fear of being tortured there, and despite the 
     Syrian government's well-documented history of torture. 
     Unnamed CIA officials told the press that this man was in 
     fact tortured in Syria.
       The Committee and the Senate will want to know your role in 
     these situations and your views with regard to the 
     development of the legal justifications that appear to 
     underlie so many of these actions. You will be called upon to 
     explain in detail your role in developing policies related to 
     the interrogation and treatment of foreign prisoners. The 
     American public and the Senate that will be called upon to 
     confirm your appointment deserve to know how a potential 
     Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer in the 
     nation, will interpret and enforce the laws and how you will 
     develop policy.
       We want to know what the current policy on torture is, but 
     since the Administration disavowed the August 1, 2002, memo, 
     no public statement of policy has replaced it. Questions 
     remain unanswered on a host of issues. Requests to the White 
     House and the Department of Justice for relevant documents--
     including my requests to you in May and June of this year--
     have been ignored or rejected. I urge you and the 
     Administration to provide the documents that have been 
     requested by myself and others without further delay so that 
     the hearings will be well informed.
       Another key concern you will be called upon to discuss is 
     how you view the duties and responsibilities of the Attorney 
     General. As we discussed, I view the White House Counsel 
     position and that of the Attorney General as quite distinct. 
     You may well have viewed this President as your ``client'' 
     while serving him at the White House, although the courts do 
     not recognize an attorney-client privilege in that setting. 
     We will want to know how differently you will act and view 
     your responsibilities as the Attorney General of the 
     United States.
       Finally, I encourage you to commit to cooperating with all 
     members of the Judiciary Committee on issues of oversight and 
     accountability. In the 108th Congress, the Judiciary 
     Committee failed to fulfill its oversight responsibilities. 
     Accountability and improving government performance are sound 
     and long established purposes of congressional oversight, and 
     accountability has been lacking on these and other crucial 
     issues. With a new Congress, and a new Attorney General, I 
     expect a return to the diligent oversight envisioned by our 
     Founders to ensure that the Executive Branch remains 
     accountable to the American people.
       Our meeting was a constructive beginning at the start of 
     the confirmation process, and I look forward to your hearing 
     early next month. In the meantime, Marcelle and I send our 
     best wishes to you and your family and hope that you have a 
     restful and rewarding holiday season.
                                                    Patrick Leahy,
                                        Ranking Democratic Member.

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I yield the floor. I see the distinguished 
Senator from North Dakota now seeking the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous unanimous consent, the 
Senator from North Dakota is recognized.
  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, let me ask consent to speak for 20 minutes 
in morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.