Losing the health care debate badly? Need to distract the public attention from the horrific deficit forecasts being released tomorrow? No problem, just demagogue a five year old report and threaten to persecute evil Bush era CIA interrogators!
Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terror Interrogations
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they allegedly threatened terrorism suspects, according to two sources familiar with the move.
Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.
Durham’s mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more.
The attorney general selected Durham in part because the longtime prosecutor is familiar with the CIA and its past interrogation regime. For nearly two years, Durham has been probing whether laws against obstruction or false statements were violated in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA videotapes. The tapes allegedly depicted brutal scenes including waterboarding of some of the agency’s high value detainees. That inquiry is proceeding before a grand jury in Alexandria, although lawyers following the investigation have cast doubt on whether it will result in any criminal charges.
Word of Holder’s decision comes on the same day that the Obama administration will issue a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General. Among other things, the IG questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics that included simulated drowning and wall slamming. A federal judge in New York forced the administration to release the secret report after a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
A separate internal Justice Department ethics report on the professionalism of lawyers who blessed the questioning techniques continues to undergo declassification review and is not likely to be released imminently. The New York Times reported Monday that the ethics report recommended that Holder take another look at several episodes of alleged detainee abuse that previously had been declined for prosecution during the Bush years, bolstering his decision to appoint a prosecutor.
Leaders at the Justice Department and the intelligence community have clashed this year over the release of sensitive interrogation memos, military photographs of detainee abuse and how to handle the cases of more than 200 detainees at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Holder’s decision could complicate the Justice Department’s relationship with the White House, where President Obama has repeatedly expressed a desire to move forward from the national security controversies of the Bush administration. Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton told reporters Monday that the president had complete faith in Holder and that the decision whether to launch an investigation was the attorney general’s sole prerogative.
“The White House supports the attorney general making the decisions on who gets prosecuted and investigated,” Burton said.
Holder acknowledges the possible fallout from his decision, but has concluded in recent days that he has no other choice than to probe whether laws were broken in connection with the Bush administration’s interrogation program, the two sources said. Fewer than a dozen cases will be examined, most from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Any criminal investigation into the CIA conduct faces serious hurdles, according to current and former government lawyers, including such challenges as missing evidence, nonexistent or unreliable witnesses, no access to some bodies of detainees who died, and the passage of up to seven years since the questionable activity occurred far from American soil.
During the Bush years, a team of more than a half-dozen career prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, which is renown for its expertise in probing clandestine operations, reviewed about 20 cases of alleged prisoner abuse after receiving referrals from the military and then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson. Among the assistant U.S. attorneys involved in the review was Robert Spencer, who successfully prosecuted al-Qaeda operative Zacharias Moussaoui and who later won one of the highest awards the Justice Department bestows.
In only one of the cases did the lawyers recommend seeking a grand jury indictment. A federal appeals court earlier this month affirmed the assault conviction of David A. Passaro, a CIA contractor who wielded a metal flashlight against a detainee at a military base in Afghanistan. Passaro was not charged with murder. Abdul Wali, the detainee he questioned, died shortly after the beating but investigators could not conclusively link his death to the flashlight attack.
A former government official involved in the previous review said that, given problems with evidence, there was “no conceivable way we could have come out different” and sought criminal indictments. The official said that analysis might change if new and reliable witnesses emerged.
Current and former CIA officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations have cited the prior review by prosecutors as one of several reasons why the Obama Justice Department need not act. They fear that any criminal investigation will chill intelligence activities and alienate operatives who are responsible for protecting national security.
Attorney General Holder opens ‘preliminary’ investigation of post-9/11 interrogations
Holder Orders Review Into Abuses of Terror Suspects (Update2)
Holder Releases Statement on Detainee Interrogations, Special Prosecutor
Holder’s Pick for CIA Investigation Known as Tough, Diligent
Sources: Report to detail alleged abuse inside CIA secret prisons
CIA staged mock execution, wielded power drill in interrogations, secret report says
CIA Faulted for Conduct at Prisons
DOJ probe opens divides with Hill, CIA
Liberals and the CIA
Civil Liberties Groups Prepare Delicate Message on CIA Probe
GOP senators warn Holder against CIA abuse inquiry
Republicans warn Holder on probe
U.S. Republican senators oppose investigation into CIA
Panetta Letter to CIA Staff on Release of Interrogation Report
Panetta Defends CIA in E-Mail to Agency
Obama White House v. CIA; Panetta Threatened to Quit
Is Panetta About to Quit?
The Justice Dept.’s War On Heroes
Okay, the memo is five years old and the alleged transgressions contained within, from even further back in ancient history, basically boil down to CIA interrogators threatening some of the world’s worst and deadliest terrorists with nasty and frightening, yet totally fictitious, never intended to be implemented, torture techniques and retribution against the terrorists’ family members. Sticks and stones didn’t hurt their bones, only words were used to break them. These allegations have already been thoroughly investigated, a long time ago, by career prosecutors experienced in CIA matters, and in the one case where abuse was found charges were brought.
Why is Holder digging up this well settled grave again after all these years, to placate the uber liberal CIA haters, the ACLU, to stroke his own ego? Doesn’t he care what damage it will do to the CIA and how much it will demoralize CIA operatives out in the field, risking their lives every day to defend America and keep us safe? What part of numerous past and present CIA Directors vociferously telling him, in no uncertain terms, that this new witch hunt is a really bad idea doesn’t he understand? Hell, even Obama doesn’t particularly want to travel down this long abandoned road.
/given Eric Holder’s undaunted determination to give aid and comfort to the enemy, at the expense of those standing between us and the enemy, it’s unclear as to where his loyalties lie and who’s side he’s really on
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: 2004 Report, Abdul Wali, ACLU, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Alexandria, American Civil Liberties Union, Barack Obama, Bill Burton, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, CIA Inspector General, CIA Interrogators, CIA Videotapes, Criminal Investigation, Cuba, David Passaro, Eastern District Of Virginia, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Eric Holder, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, John Durham, John Helgerson, New York Times, Robert Spencer, U.S. Justice Department, Virginia, Zacharias Moussaoui | 2 Comments »