Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and House Democratic Caucus Chair Robert Menendez today called on Speaker Hastert to direct the relevant committees to investigate the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. The full text of the letter follows:
The full text of the letter follows:
May 24, 2004
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
We are writing to register our grave concern over the lack of investigations by committees of the House of Representatives into the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq.
When the events that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison became public, we asked the ranking Democratic members on the committees of jurisdiction to request of the chairmen of those committees that comprehensive and aggressive hearings be conducted, so that all of the issues raised by those events could be investigated thoroughly. It was our belief then that the damage done by the incidents of abuse to the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world would be compounded unless Congress was seen to be committed to uncovering the facts and following them wherever they might lead. Revelations in the intervening weeks which suggest that prisoners were abused at facilities other than Abu Ghraib, in fact in places other than Iraq, have reinforced that belief.
Despite the requests of the Democrats, no committee has decided to undertake an investigation of any aspect of the prisoner abuse matter. Hearings and briefings have been held in some committees, but there does not seem to be an investigative agenda, and a work plan for fulfilling that agenda, in place anywhere in the House. We believe that the House will be derelict in its institutional oversight responsibilities unless this situation changes soon.
We request that you direct the chairmen of the Armed Services, International Relations, Government Reform, Judiciary, and Intelligence committees, in consultation with the ranking Democrats on those committees, to develop a coordinated strategy that will result in a comprehensive investigation being started expeditiously. If it appears that the creation of a select committee to conduct the investigation is a more efficient approach, given the numerous jurisdictional issues involved, we request that such a committee be created quickly. We note that, during consideration of the Department of Defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2005, an effort by Representative Waxman to put the House on record in favor of the establishment of a select committee received substantial support.
Regardless of the approach chosen, we believe it is imperative that the House make investigating the prisoner abuse case a matter of urgent priority. To do less would be inconsistent with its gravity.
Thank you for your consideration of our views.
Democratic Caucus Chair