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Top Republican pulls out of intelligence investigation

- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

The top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee has pulled out of the panel's bipartisan review of Bush-era terrorist interrogation techniques, saying Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s criminal investigation into the CIA undermines the committee's ability to interview witnesses.

"Had Mr. Holder honored the pledge made by the president to look forward, not backwards, we would still be active participants in the committee's review," said Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the panel's vice chairman. "Instead, DOJ sent a loud and clear message that previous decisions to decline prosecution mean nothing and old criminal charges can be brought anytime against anyone — against these odds, what current or former CIA employee would be willing to gamble his freedom by answering the committee's questions?"

Since March, Mr. Bond had been working with Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, on the committee's review of U.S. detention and interrogation practices, including controversial techniques such as waterboarding. They have said their investigation was designed to figure out the policies, not to punish interrogators.

But Mr. Holder last month appointed a prosecutor to look into whether interrogators broke the law — and Mr. Bond said that put interrogators in an impossible position. Mrs. Feinstein said she regrets the decision by Mr. Bond to withdraw from the investigation.

"However, that study and investigation is being pursued, additional staff are being hired, and the committee is continuing to work with all due diligence," she said. The investigation was expected to last about a year.