Boxer Calls For Independent Commission on Bush Torture
It's expected for a lawmaker in the beginning of a new election cycle to get a little more active, with high-profile articulations of positions on key issues. So it is for Sen. Barbara Boxer. In the past week, she has released a report on the statewide recession, featuring interviews with local officials from all 58 counties; demanding that Attorney General Mukasey intervene to reverse a "blatantly illegal" memo by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson claiming that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant (the Supreme Court has already ruled that it is); and most interesting to me, wrote a letter to incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry calling for hearings on the Bush Administration's use of torture, as well as an outside commission to investigate it:
I write today to raise an issue of the utmost significance -- the Administration’s use of torture against detainees held in U.S. custody. Despite widespread condemnation from Members of Congress, policy experts, and human rights advocates, Vice President Richard Cheney stated in a recent interview with ABC News that the torture policies used against detainees were appropriate and admitted that he played a role in their authorization. In fact, when asked if any of the tactics -- including waterboarding -- went too far, he responded with a curt “I don’t.”
I find Vice President Cheney’s response deplorable, particularly in light of a recent report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee following an eighteen-month investigation. In sum, the bipartisan report found that “senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” The report, led by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, concluded that “those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.” I fully support Chairman Levin’s proposal for an outside Commission with subpoena power to investigate this matter further.
The whole letter is here. This is one step away from the needed call for an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush's war crimes, but it's as close as any Senator has been willing to go. This suggests that Boxer considers an investigation of this nature to not only be the right thing to do in a democracy, but not electorally damaging whatsoever. She should be supported in this belief and encouraged to go even further. I know that Senator Boxer has begun asking for contributions to her re-election campaign. Maybe a series of contributions of $9.12, signaling support for a "9/12" torture commission and an independent prosecutor, along with emails and letters explaining this, would relay the message?