Monday, April 20

AG Holder Still Considering Prosecuting Torture

in a move that just might make all of Obama's attempts to sweep the Bush-Era torture under the rug irrelvant, freshly minted Attorney General Holder appears to still seriously be considering the investigation of Torture and War Crimes via a Special Prosecutor.

From Isikoff's report in Newsweek.

But the Obama administration is not off the hook. Though administration officials declared that CIA interrogators who followed Justice's legal guidance on torture would not be prosecuted, that does not mean the inquiries are over. Senior Justice Department lawyers and other advisers, who declined to be identified discussing a sensitive subject, say Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has discussed naming a senior prosecutor or outside counsel to review whether CIA interrogators exceeded legal boundaries--and whether Bush administration officials broke the law by giving the CIA permission to torture in the first place. Some Justice officials are deeply troubled by reports of detainee treatment and believe they may suggest criminal misconduct, these sources say. Even if prosecutions prove too difficult to bring, an outside counsel's report could be made public. For his part, Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still pushing for a "truth commission." In a democracy, the wheels of justice grind on--and the president, for good reason under the rule of law, does not have the power to stop them.

Yet again the simply truth that the President may run the Country - but the Attorney General runs the Justice Department and for the most part - they are and should be independent of each other.

In fact, this may be one of the best ways to address this issue - rather than having anything to do with partisanship, "payback" or retribution - it may in all truth simply be about "Justice". Contrary to the other diary which posits this as some kind of "game", this may exactly the way this case needs to go forward and leave Obama's own hands clean in this investigation and avoid a partisan bloodbath that would derail his agenda for the next three years.

As is discussed by Isikoff in the case of Jane Harmon, the mixing of politics and prosecutions is a highly volatile combination.

Sen. Leahy has run into a complete and total Stonewall with Senate Republicans and is so-far unwilling to persue a "Truth Commission" as a completely partisan event, meanwhile in the House Conyers has already called for a Special Prosecutor.

Holder taking the reins and assigning an independent investigator to get at the truth, no matter who or what it costs is exactly what we need. The DOJ is independent and should STAY independent of policy decisions made at the White House.


Update Obama appears now to be backing AG Holder, a point which makes yesterdays discussion of whether or not Obama was violating the UN Convention against torture by blocking an investigation somewhat moot. What I said then was that it was inappropriate for the President to stop the AG from doing his job and that was exactly what appeared to be happening as Rahm Emmanuel and Robert Gibbs both promised "No Prosecutions".

Today seems to be a new day. With Holder learning toward investigations - NOW it would be wrong (and maybe or maybe not illegal) for the President to attempt to squash this. Maybe this was the "Plan" all along - but then again, maybe he heard the footsteps of history drawing close... hard to tell.

Update 2 From the AP.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Tuesday the United States lost "our moral bearings" with gruesome terror-suspect interrogations and left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials who vouched for their legality.

At the same time, Obama said the question of whether to bring charges "is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that." The president discussed the continuing issue of terrorism-era interrogation tactics with reporters as he finished an Oval Office meeting with visiting King Abdullah of Jordan.


Update 3 Watching the Gibb Press conference, there's clearly quite a bit of confusion as to what was said by Rahm yesterday and what the President has said today. I think some of that is cleared up by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Rachel.

The OPR review of the OLC memos is still ongoing and not complete. There had been some noise made that the final report would recommend disbarment of Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury.

The real question in my mind, isn't really the memos themselves but Why they were written and whether the purpose and content was specifically manipulated by people in the White House (Gonzales, Addington) to Cover-Up a Crime already in progress.

Also Cheney is loudly claiming that it was inappropriate that Obama released the OLC memos (Never mind the Court Order that requested them), while not releasing other memos that showed the "Good information" we received from them. Except that the CIA says Cheney claim that he requested the Proof of Effectiveness Memos was never received.

Let me just say again, that those Memos of post-torture claims are useless unless the information was Confirmed as Credible by the FBI, which so far they haven't been. And even if it were - it all would still be a War Crime.


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