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Judiciary Hearing on Guantanamo – Part II

June 18, 2008

The Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is currently holding a hearing, “From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules, Part II.” Witnesses will include Douglas Feith, Daniel Levin, David B. Rivkin, Jr., and Lawrence Wilkerson.

Watch the hearing live via committee webcast or on C Span 3.

UPDATE: Douglas Feith, who was involved in the development of Administration interrogation policies, backed out of testifying this morning.

Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler addresses Feith’s absence:

Chairman Nadler: “Despite his prior commitment to testify, this morning Mr. Feith informed the Committee through his counsel that he would not appear today because he is not willing to appear alongside one of our other witnesses. Needless to say this is an extraordinary disappointment for this witness not to come here and to go back on his promise to the Committee to appear today. Individuals often must appear before congressional committees alongside witnesses that they disagree with, such concerns are no reason to decline to appear when you said you will. We will reschedule a hearing in which Mr. Feith will appear so we can elucidate his testimony on this issue.”

Daniel Levin, a United States Assistant Attorney General in 2004 who was forced to resign, gives opening testimony and addresses a particular claim made by Republicans on the Committee:

Levin: “If I could just add one point. As a witness sitting here and hearing this, I feel some obligation to say something about this, and I’m very limited I think in what I can say, but if the subcommittee has been informed that there was a total of three minutes of waterboarding I would suggest the subcommittee should go back and get that clarified because that, I don’t believe, is an accurate statement.”

Larry Wilkerson, who served as Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, gives opening testimony:

Wilkerson: “I knew such things were wrong and I knew that they represented a failure of leadership. What I didn’t know was at what level that leadership failed. So I set out to find the answer and I think I did. Secretary Powell and I also knew what extreme danger to America’s real power in the world could be done by such a failure. America, as you well know, is an idea as much as it is concrete buildings, sweeping prairies, stock markets and land from one ocean to another. Infect that idea, corrode that idea, tarnish that idea and you don’t just diminish perceived power you diminish our real power. You, in fact, do the terrorists’ job for them.”

Full Committee Chairman John Conyers questioned the witnesses:

Chairman Conyers: “The Secretary was of the mind that the President was fully complicit in everything that had happened, but I must add that at the time neither of us was really confident that we knew exactly what had happened, so I’ll qualify it with that.”