Panel Will Subpoena Assistant to Cheney

David S. Addington is to be queried about the treatment of detainees.
David S. Addington is to be queried about the treatment of detainees. (David Bohrer - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A House Judiciary panel voted yesterday to subpoena vice presidential aide David S. Addington as part of a broad inquiry into the Bush administration's treatment of detainees.

Addington, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, signaled in correspondence released last week that he might testify under oath about controversial interrogation policies if lawmakers demanded his testimony.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) took that step yesterday morning, initiating a voice vote in which Democratic lawmakers called on Addington to answer questions about his role in drafting legal memos that underpinned coercive U.S. interrogation measures. Civil liberties advocates have likened the methods to illegal torture.

Lawyers for the vice president have sought to limit the subjects about which Addington can be questioned, and committee sources say the scope of his testimony remains under negotiation. A former legal counsel to the vice president, Addington was a key player in formulating antiterrorism strategies after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He has not previously discussed his views or his role in public.

House Judiciary staff members said they are also arranging voluntary testimony from former attorney general John D. Ashcroft and John C. Yoo, a former deputy in the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel who is now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

"Congress has the prerogative and duty to demand the truth from the executive," Nadler said. A spokesman for Nadler said the subpoena to Addington could be issued as early as today. Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for the vice president's office, said staff members would review it and "respond accordingly."

Earlier this year the House sued Joshua B. Bolten, President Bush's chief of staff, and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers for refusing to provide information under subpoena about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Bush cited executive privilege in an effort to thwart lawmakers' demands. The case is pending in U.S. District Court in Washington.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company