U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, at the Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Pandemic Flu, said he would propose an amendment to strip funding for Attorney General Holder’s interrogation task forces from the supplemental, and made the following remarks:
“I asked the attorney general last week about renditions not just in the most recent administration, but in the Clinton administration. Testimony before Congress said they began in the summer of 1995 and that there were at least 70 before 9/11—most of them during the Clinton years. Attorney General Holder was the deputy attorney general during that time and I asked him last week, ‘Did you know about them? Did you approve them? Did anyone else in the Justice Department approve them? What precautions were taken to ensure that these renditions, or any interrogations of detainees on or behalf of the U.S. government, complied with the law?’ He couldn’t remember, yet he’s in charge of this task force. So I think we’re entitled to know what the scope of this review is before we spend the money.”
The Shelby-Alexander amendment would strip $30 million in funding from Department of Justice interrogation task forces, requested by Attorney General Eric Holder. Alexander said he would offer the amendment to the bill when it reaches the Senate floor, along with Senators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and others.
Last Thursday, Alexander asked Attorney General Eric Holder during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies whether he was aware of renditions carried out while he served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton Administration, but did not receive a direct answer.
“Attorney General Holder’s unresponsive answers and poor memory suggest what a difficult path it will be if the government continues to publicize and expand its investigation of interrogation tactics,” Alexander said on the Senate floor last week.