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Judiciary Subcommittee Approves Subpoena for Doug Feith

Posted on by Jesse Lee

Last Wednesday the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing, “From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules, Part II.” Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was scheduled to appear, but as Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler explained:

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.”

Watch highlights of the hearing >>

Today the subcommittee approved a subpoena for Feith. From Rep. Nadler:

Rep. Nadler: Panel Authorizes Subpoena for Testimony of Douglas Feith
Lawmakers Also Approve Nadler's “National Security Letters Reform Act”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 24, 2008
CONTACT: Shin Inouye, 202-225-5635

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties today held a meeting where the Subcommittee adopted a resolution “authorizing the Chairman to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Douglas Feith.” Lawmakers also approved H.R. 3189, the National Security Letters Reform Act of 2007, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Nadler.

Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee last Wednesday at a hearing on the role that Bush Administration lawyers played in creating, approving and implementing abusive interrogation policies that resulted in the widespread abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and control. Despite agreeing to testify voluntarily, on the morning of the hearing, Mr. Feith, through his attorney, informed the Chair that he was unwilling to appear. Today's resolution, adopted on a vote of nine to three, authorizes the Committee Chairman to issue a subpoena for Feith to compel his testimony.

“While most witnesses with relevant information appear before Congress voluntarily, in some cases, it is necessary to compel their testimony,” said Rep. Nadler. “It is simply not prudent to rely on the voluntary promise to appear of a witness who already has broken such an agreement. I hope that it will not become necessary to issue this subpoena, but Congress has the prerogative and duty to conduct meaningful oversight to ensure a robust system of checks and balances.”

Also at today's hearing, lawmakers approved H.R. 3189, the National Security Letters Reform Act of 2007. That bipartisan bill was introduced by Rep. Nadler, along with Reps. Jeff Flake (AZ-06), William Delahunt (MA-10) and Ron Paul (TX-14). Their bill would provide crucial checks against the unprecedented and dangerous National Security Letter authority that was vastly expanded by the Patriot Act. Specifically, the bill would give a NSL recipient the right to challenge the letter and its nondisclosure requirement, and would place a time limit on the NSL gag order and allow for court approved extensions. The bill was reported favorably on a vote of seven to four.

“Our law enforcement must have the tools they need to protect us, but those powers should be focused on real threats,” said Rep. Nadler. “Protecting our fundamental freedoms is not a partisan issue. My bipartisan bill protects Americans against unnecessary intrusion into their private lives, and it prevents abuses of power by the government.”

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