By resisting congressional requests for documents, the Bush Administration has effectively diminished Congress’s oversight power, as the review of government policy is often replaced by lengthy contests over access to records.
In the final six months of the current Administration, for example, the Senate Judiciary Committee still finds itself unable to gain access to influential records of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) relating to interrogation, detention and torture.
“After more than five years of requests, we have only recently received access to redacted versions of OLC legal opinions related to the CIA’s interrogation program,” wrote Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) on August 19.
“The failure to provide other documents that we have sought repeatedly, however, leaves us without basic facts that are essential to this Committee’s ability to conduct its oversight responsibilities.”
“I have been stonewalled even in my repeated request for something as simple as an index of OLC opinions,” wrote Sen. Leahy.
The Administration has not asserted executive privilege in this area, and national security classification is not a barrier to the cleared Committee staff. The requested documents have simply not been provided.
In a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Senators Leahy and Specter asked Mr. Fielding to turn over ten specified legal memoranda and other OLC documents on detention and interrogation policies.
The Senators set a deadline of Friday, August 29 at 10 AM for delivery of the requested documents. They did not indicate how they might respond if the documents are not received.
Update and clarification: The Department of Justice has provided copies of all OLC opinions dealing with CIA interrogation policy to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The dispute between the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department reflects in part a disagreement over jurisdictional boundaries between the two Committees.
To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.
Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.