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Senate to mull probe into Bush-era policies

world Updated: Feb 26, 2009 10:34 IST

A key US senator has taken a first step towards forming a commission of inquiry to probe potential abuses committed under the secret counter-terrorism policies pursued by former president George W Bush.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he has called a March 4 hearing to explore how to establish an inquiry to get to the truth about "one of the most secretive administrations in American history."

"We need an independent inquiry that is beyond reproach and outside of partisan politics to pursue and find the truth," said Leahy in a statement.

"Such a commission would focus primarily on the subjects of national security and executive power in the government's counterterrorism effort," he said.

He said formation of such a commission should not close the door to criminal investigations into potential misdeeds.

But he said it would serve as a "middle ground," aimed at assembling the facts of how the previous administration polices were formed and exercised.

"We do not yet know the full extent of our government's actions in these areas, and we must be sure that an independent review goes beyond the question of whether crimes were committed, to the equally important assessment of whether mistakes were made so we may endeavor not to repeat them," he said.