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After Memos Release, Push for Torture Commission Grows

Sen. Pat Leahy and Rep. John Conyers are pushing for a new commission to investigate President Bush's war on terror policymakers. The Obama administration has not decisvely weighed in on the prospect.Nine legal memos on contentious Bush-era anti-terror policies were made public for the first time Monday, and Justice Department officials have said those could be only a preview of more to come. By our count, at least 35 other memos remain buried in the Department’s file cabinets.

The New York Times reports today that while Justice officials continue checking those still-secret memos to ensure they don’t contain classified information, congressional Democrats have used the freshly aired documents to refuel their calls for a commission that would investigate people involved in shaping President Bush’s war on terrorism.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who lead the House and Senate judiciary committees, have both said a commission is needed. The Senate Judiciary Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss this very possibility in a session titled, "Getting the Truth through a Non-Partisan Commission."

But the according to the Times report, the Obama administration has been cool to the possibility of a lengthy, possibly painful inquiry into individual responsibility for questionable terror policies and the memos that supported them , a number of which even the Bush administration rejected in its final days. Bush administration veterans accuse these Democrats in Congress of making scapegoats out of officials who acted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In an interview that ran yesterday, John C. Yoo, the author of some of Monday’s new memos, told the Orange County Register:

"I wish they weren't doing it, but I understand why they are. It is something one would expect. You have to make these kinds of decisions in an unprecedented kind of war with legal questions we've never had to think about before. We didn't seek out those questions. 9/11 kind of thrust them on us."

Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has been plugging away for years on a separate investigation. Investigators have questioned whether some officials wrote opinions they knew were faulty to "provide legal cover" for policies already decided on by White House officials, the Times reports.

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