The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Daniel Schuman          

Constitution Project Joins Call for Investigation of Post 9-11 Detainee Policies


Leaders from across the political spectrum, including a former FBI director, an
Army general who investigated detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and a former Under
Secretary of State, today called upon President Obama to appoint a non-partisan
commission to examine policies related to the detention, treatment, and
transfer of detainees following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The
commission would investigate the government's alleged detainee abuse and related
constitutional and legal violations.

Here is the full statement:

urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished
Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and
actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after
9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for
future policy in this area.

We believe all members of the
commission must have reputations for putting the truth and the respect for our
nation's founding principles ahead of any partisan advantage. Members
should be persons of irreproachable integrity, credibility, and independence.
Leading academics, retired judges and government officials, retired military
officers and intelligence officials and human rights experts are examples of
the types of profiles that should be sought. The President should solicit
recommendations from the majority and minority leaders in both houses in the
process of choosing commission members."

There has been growing bipartisan support for the proposal
of an investigatory commission to account for the policies of the last eight
years. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced legislation,
co-sponsored by Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C.), to establish a commission
to investigative former President Bush's abuse of war powers and civil
liberties. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-V.T.) called for a
commission to investigate the policies related to the detention and treatment
of detainees and other practices in a speech at Georgetown University.

"The Constitution Project believes that an investigative
commission is a critical step in reaffirming our nation's commitment to the
rule of law," said Policy Counsel Becky Monroe.
"We need a full understanding of the failures of the recent past in order to
avoid making the same mistakes in the future. A non-partisan commission,
removed from the influence of politics, is the best way to accomplish this

Signatories to the statement include: Juan E. Mendez, President of the International
Center for Transitional Justice; Thomas Pickering, former Under
Secretary of State for Political Affairs; William S. Sessions, former federal judge and Director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigations; Major General Antonio M.
(Ret.); and Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas,
General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Eighteen
organizations have also signed on to the letter, including the Constitution
Project. A full list is available here.

According to Ms. Monroe, "A commission will help both the President
and Congress develop sound policies that defend constitutional safeguards and
promote national security as we move forward."

In 2005, the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee called for an
investigation into detainee abuse allegations. The statement
spoke of the "need for a high-level, broad-gauged panel to assess the national
security, foreign policy and human rights implications of the issue."

To speak with our policy expert on this matter, please contact
Daniel Schuman, Director of Communications and Counsel, at
or 202-580-6922.

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at