In the News

Independent Commission Should Review Torture Policy

October 24, 2005

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, New York 10036

Dear Mr. Feyer,

The following Letter to the Editor is submitted exclusively to The New York Times. This letter is the opinion of New York City Bar Association president Bettina B. Plevan, in reaction to the Sunday, October 23rd, story titled, “C.I.A. to Avoid Charges in Most Prisoner Deaths.” The news story was written by reporters Douglas Jehl and Tim Golden. We hope you will share Ms. Plevan’s letter with your readers.

To the Editor:

The report that no charges will be brought against C.I.A. personnel involved in the abuse and death of detainees under their control (Oct. 23; “C.I.A. to Avoid Charges in Most Prisoner Deaths”) further underscores the importance of establishing an independent commission to examine the formulation and implementation of U.S. policy toward detainees.

This Executive Branch has repeatedly demonstrated that it cannot conduct such an inquiry. Several investigations have been launched, but their central failing is that they have not investigated the top officials responsible. There is ample evidence the administration has sought to permit the torture and abuse of detainees captured in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere in the world in connection with the “war on terror,” from legal memoranda orchestrated in the White House to instructions passed from high levels of the Defense Department. But the same people who initiated this program are the ones who oversee the investigation of its results.

Congress should establish a commission similar in concept to the 9/11 Commission to expose not only those who torture, but those who set in motion, and continue to pursue, a torture policy that has so undercut our world standing.

Bettina B. Plevan, President
New York City Bar