Inslee Supports Commission to Investigate Torture

By Chris Kissel April 28, 2009

So far, members of the Washington State delegation to DC have been reticent to answer our question about whether the government should prosecute those involved in Bush-era torture practices. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) seems to be for prosecution and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA,7) isn't interested in addressing the issue at all.

Rep. Smith, like Obama and the Democratic Senate leadership, says he wants to leave the decision to the Justice Department and doesn't support forming an independent panel to investigate the policies of the Bush years.


Now, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA,1) is taking the opposite stance—he's co-sponsoring legislation, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI,14), that calls for a commission to investigate the Bush war policies, including the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques." The position pits him against the White House, as well as Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and other "Senate leaders," whose position is to turn the page on the Bush years.

“America is indeed a country that always looks forward. But to keep the country from going off track again in the future, we simply have to have a thoughtful, matter-of-fact exposition of how these illicit and nationally damaging decisions were made and by whom," said Rep. Inslee in a statement.

The commission, according to the bill, would consist entirely of non-government workers. Based on a review of government information, the nine-person commission would submit a report sixteen months after their first meeting.

The likelihood of the proposal becoming law is pretty low. President Obama would use his veto if it ever got far enough to land on his desk, and the House committees currently in charge of the bill (two of which, the Intelligence and Armed Forces committees, are manned by Rep. Smith) don't seem likely to put it up for debate.

But that doesn't really matter, Inslee's office says; the point is to make a statement. "The purpose of supporting this is that you're trying to address the issue," Inslee spokeswoman Torie Brazitis told PubliCola. The number of cosponsors on Rep. Conyers' bill has nearly doubled since the Obama Administration released the CIA interrogation memos on April 16.

It's not likely that Rep. Inslee's hypothetical investigation panel would seek to prosecute CIA interrogators. "This is a little more high level than [the CIA interrogators]. It's more at the level of something systematic," Brazitis says.

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