Washington The White House on Thursday said it did not support creation of an independent panel to investigate the Bush administration’s harsh interrogations of terror suspects.
“The last few days might well be evidence of why something like this would likely just become a political back-and-forth,” presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. “We’re all best suited looking forward.”
Gibbs said the idea of an independent commission to look into the treatment of detainees in the early stages of the anti-terror war was discussed “in earnest” inside the White House about two weeks ago, as President Barack Obama and his aides were deciding whether to release a key set of Bush-era memos detailing brutal interrogation techniques used on some terror suspects and the legal justification behind them. The memos were declassified and made public by the Obama administration last week.
“The president determined that the concept didn’t seem altogether that workable in this case,” the spokesman said.
With the Senate Intelligence Committee conducting its own probe of the Bush program, the Obama White House seems to have determined it is best to let that process play out on Capitol Hill and not endorse any other forum for examining the era more deeply. Gibbs noted that it is up to Congress — not the White House — to decide whether to pass legislation creating a commission.
The Senate panel is investigating the legal underpinnings for the interrogations as well as the value of the information they produced. Republicans fear the creation of a bipartisan commission would be mostly an effort to vilify former President George W. Bush and top Bush officials.
Since releasing the memos, Obama has been buffeted by criticism from the right and left. Conservatives say the release endangers national security, while liberals have seized on them to push harder for investigation and prosecution of actions under Bush.