Judiciary chairs want AG 2005 opinions

Oct. 4, 2007 at 5:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Congressional leaders Thursday asked the U.S. Justice Department for secret legal opinions in 2005 that authorized use of harsh interrogation techniques.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said his committee has wanted information about the department's legal interpretations of the law for some time, The New York Times reported.

The opinions on interrogation techniques against terrorism suspects remain in effect, Bush administration sources told the Times. Officials within the administration at the Justice Department said the 2005 memorandum did not change an administration’s statement in 2004 that publicly renounced torture as "abhorrent."

The 2005 opinions were revealed Thursday by the Times. A February 2005 briefing permitted harsh interrogation tactics based on a 1952 Supreme Court decision that declared only behavior that "shocks the conscious" was unconstitutional.

Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the House Judiciary Committee chairman, also asked for the Justice Department’s opinions and asked that Steven G. Bradbury, of the department’s office of legal counsel, who signed the opinions, to be available for hearings.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement he could not comment on classified legal advice, but opinions by the department were consistent with the public 2004 memorandum on interrogations.

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