Rockefeller Wants Full Senate to Look Into Prisoner Detention Practices

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is asking for a full Senate debate on whether the committee should investigate prisoner detention, interrogation and rendition policies and practices of the U.S. government.

Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the committee, noted that there have been at least ten separate internal inquiries so far, as well as numerous criminal investigations, and an independent review led by former Secretary of Defense Jim Schlesinger into abuses committed by members of the U.S. military or by individuals working for the Defense Department.

"Intelligence gathered through interrogation is one of the most important tools we have in the war on terror. The men and women of the U.S. intelligence community are our first line of defense, and they deserve to know that their procedures are right, legal, and effective," said Rockefeller.

"Yet, intelligence officers in the field are not provided with clear guidelines for effective and legal interrogation," Rockefeller said, adding that he's "gravely concerned that this lack of clear and cohesive policies has led not only to numerous cases of prisoner abuse and death, but also ineffective interrogations of prisoners in U.S. custody."

Central Intelligence Director Porter Goss has acknowledged that the CIA inspector general is looking into multiple allegations of abuse, Rockefeller said. But all the investigations have been limited to the jurisdiction of the investigating agencies and all have all been conducted by the executive branch.

Rockefeller wants to have a review of the "fundamental legal and operational issues that apply to the entire intelligence community."

"No other committee in Congress has the jurisdiction to review this issue. These programs are too important and the damage to our nation's reputation and our security is too great to ignore the serious problems that have surfaced," concluded Rockefeller.

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