U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today asked Attorney General Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, whether, at the time, he knew about and approved the renditions of enemy combatants to other countries that occurred during the Clinton years.
“Testimony before Congress makes clear that there were up to 70 renditions carried out before September 11, 2001 – most of them during the Clinton years,” said Alexander during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, of which he is a member. “These renditions might have involved interrogations or even worse. What precautions did you take to make sure these renditions followed the law?
“If we are going to second guess Justice Department lawyers doing their jobs in the Bush administration,” Alexander continued, “should the investigation not also look into those who created the interrogation techniques and who asked for legal opinions, those who approved them and members of Congress who might have approved, encouraged, or didn’t object, to such techniques?
“I thought President Obama’s first instinct was right when he said we need to look forward,” Alexander told the Attorney General at the hearing. “But if we are going to look backward, where do we draw the line? Do we leave out intelligence officers who created the techniques, congressmen who approved them and those who had responsibility for reviewing similar activities in previous administrations?”
A complete transcript of Senator Alexander’s questions and Attorney General Holder’s responses is available upon request.