The Constitution Project, a Washington based non-profit think tank that builds bipartisan consensus on significant constitutional and legal questions, in 2010 convened an 11-member panel to conduct a nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years following 9/11. Today the panel, co-chaired by NAFUSA member Asa Hutchinson, shown above, and James R. Jones, released its 577-page report which concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that responsibility ultimately lies with the nation’s highest officials.
In this morning’s New York Times, Scott Shane writes:
“Mr. Hutchinson, who served in the Bush administration as chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration and under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that he ‘took convincing’ on the torture issue. But after the panel’s nearly two years of research, he said he had no doubts about what the United States did. ‘This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players,’ Mr. Hutchinson said in an interview. He said he thought everyone involved in the decisions, from Mr. Bush down had acted in good faith, in a desperate effort to try to prevent more attacks.
‘But I just think we learn from history,’ Mr. Hutchinson said. ‘It’s incredibly important to have an accurate account not just of what happened but of how decisions were made.’
He added, ‘The United States has a historic and unique character, and part of that character is that we do not torture.'”
Hutchinson served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas 1982-1985 and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Panel Co-Chair James J. Jones also served in Congress. Another member of the Task Force on Detainee Treatment is NAFUSA member William S. Sessions, a former director of the FBI, who has also served as a federal judge and as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas 1971-1974.