Alexander on Interrogation Investigations: “Where Do We Draw the Line?”

Says “Obsessively Looking in the Rear View Mirror Could Consume Our Nation’s Every Waking Moment”

Posted on May 11, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today on the Senate floor that the Department of Justice should follow President Obama’s instincts and look forward rather than “obsessively looking in the rear view mirror” at interrogation techniques. “Where do we draw the line in these investigations?” Alexander asked. “If we are going to investigate lawyers for giving their opinions, shouldn’t we also investigate the intelligence agents who created the interrogation techniques and asked for the opinions, as well as the officials who approved the techniques? And shouldn’t we investigate members of Congress who knew about or approved or encouraged them?” 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. “The attorney general himself needs to be willing to say what he knew and when he knew it and what he did about renditions during the Clinton Administration when he was deputy attorney general,” Alexander said today on the Senate floor. “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. Public officials, of course, should follow the law. But it is not necessary to have a circus to determine whether the law was followed. Obsessively looking in the rear view mirror could consume our nation’s every waking moment. “Who will want to serve in public life in Washington, D.C., if the first thing a newly-elected administration does is try to discredit, disbar or indict all those with whom it disagrees in the last administration?” Alexander continued. “I would hope that the President will follow his first instinct and insist that we go forward as a country—focus on the economy, on the banks and the auto companies, on health care and energy, a Supreme Court Justice and two wars in which our men and women are serving.” A full transcript of Senator Alexander’s remarks is available upon request.