GOP's Sessions: Torture Prosecutor Is Unnecessary

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said Sunday that he believes it is not necessary to appoint a special criminal prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

Though President Obama has spoken against such an investigation, Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly seriously considering making the appointment.

"We've had probably in my committees, Judiciary and Armed Services, thirty or more hearings on this," Sessions told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation". "The Intelligence Committee has had great numbers of hearings and written reports on it. The military has done a series of independent reports. And I believe that that's sufficient. I don't believe a special commission is necessary.

"We were facing some real challenges, and our people tried to do the best they could," explained Sessions. "And I don't think I see the evidence yet to justify any prosecutions."

Vermont's Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy told Schieffer that while he prefers a commission of inquiry, he is "not going to interfere with a special prosecutor."

He said such an inquiry, which he had long proposed in lieu of a special prosecutor, would "go into everything."

"Special prosecutors tend to be very narrowly focused," Leahy said. "Obviously Eric Holder is a superb attorney general, he's going to make up his mind what's the best thing to do. I just don't want to see an instance where if the higher-ups gave the order to break the law, that the ones who get punished are the people basically on the front line, the lower level troops."

Leahy noted that an inquiry would come with offers of immunity in order to better investigate the interrogation policies, and that "obviously we're not going to want to do that if there's criminal prosecutions being looked at.

"Maybe some of the people who are opposed to the commission of inquiry now, facing the possibility of a criminal prosecution, may find it a more acceptable idea," he said.

More from Face The Nation (7.12.09):

  • Leahy on Cheney: "No One Is Above the Law"
  • Sessions "Flabbergasted" by Sotomayor's Philosophy
  • Schieffer: A Little Context
  • Download the Complete Transcript (pdf)

    To watch Senators Leahy and Sessions debate Sotomayor, Cheney and investigations, click on the video player below.

    Click on the video player below to watch a roundtable discussion, featuring Kevin Merida of the Washington Post and syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, about a possible investigation into the Bush administration's use of torture tactics and its concealment of a CIA program from Congressional overseers.