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Holder Says He Will Pursue Torture Wrongdoing

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Posted on Apr 23, 2009
Eric Holder

What to make of the administration’s policy on holding torturers accountable? Attorney General Eric Holder says he “will not permit the criminalization of policy differences,” but will pursue wrongdoing “to the full extent of the law.” The problem here is that when it comes to torture, policy differences just might be criminal.

Washington Post:

Some Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of seeking to prosecute over policy differences.

“I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences. However, it is my responsibility as the attorney general to enforce the law,” Holder told a congressional hearing. “If I see wrongdoing, I will pursue it to the full extent of the law.”

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JimBob's avatar

By JimBob, April 26, 2009 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

This is what I’ve been waiting to hear, that the DOJ will pursue criminality, period.  They don’t need Obama’s permission to go after crooks, whether it’s white collar criminals, drug dealers, spies, murderers, tax evaders or…that’s right, those who torture in the name of the United States and those who enable them.  It’s ludicrous to think that every time the DOJ wants to pursue criminal conduct, they need the President to give them a green light.  They have thousands of employees (probably tens of thousands) ready to enforce the law.  That’s ALL they need.

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By coloradokarl, April 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

Water boarding someone 100 times is sadism, Recording it for posterity is voyerism. These people are sick and twisted…...............

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By boggs, April 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, well I wonder how this will go?
The media has been trying to portray the public as being against the prosecution or even the investigation of the people responsible.
I believe we could live without TV Media and be a whole lot more informed.

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By cyrena, April 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

1 of 2

•  “President Barack Obama decided last week to release memos written during former President George W. Bush’s administration laying out the legal justifications for harsh interrogation techniques after the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

This is a little bit deceptive, since he didn’t decide this ‘last week’. My best guess is that he ‘decided it’ long before his inauguration on January 20th, because the Justice Department started pumping out these memos for public consumption within the first few weeks of that. (And he signed legislation to close Gitmo and suspend those Kangaroo trials the first day he was in office). So this is just more from an earlier batch (TD posted the first batch of them here about 4 weeks ago, (the ones that some of us were already aware of) and the Justice Dept. said at the time, that there would be more to come. My crowd was delighted, since we’d been hoping they would publish all of these torture memos, as well as all of the secret signing statements, and the executive orders, just to bring this to the attention of the broader public.

•  “Obama has said that CIA interrogators who acted in good faith based on that legal guidance would not be prosecuted. But the door was left open to the possibility of prosecuting Bush administration officials who developed the interrogation policies.”

Key phrase here is ‘in good faith’, because that legal guidance was eventually rejected by the OLC, but not before the damage was done, and John Yoo a selected others continue to justify the original legal opinion. A serious read of those memos and all of the related material is enough to make an otherwise sane and reasonable person with a relatively good sense of judgment, start to question their own sanity; especially if nobody around them seems to be reacting the same way. I was like is it ME? Am I the only one who finds something SERIOUSLY twisted/bizarre and TORTURED about the legal rationale and/or common sense rationale that EVERY person presumably has – for what is clearly a blatant violation of the Universal Prohibition on torture; the Geneva Conventions and everything that came from those Conventions in terms of International Humanitarian Law, War Law, (like the Uniform of Military Justice), and on and on, not to mention our own US Constitutional Laws that also prohibit this?

Well, in the environment where I’d spent a large part of the previous two decades, (Texas) nobody seemed to question any of this. Actually, they thought it was perfectly acceptable to do whatever needed to be done, in order to catch those wretched ‘terrorists’ that allegedly ‘attacked’ us on 9/11. After all, we DID see those airplanes hitting the towers, and so ‘believed’ the immediately produced explanation that it was a gang of Muslim extremists guided by a guy dwelling in some cave in a far-away land, that most Americans of the time had never even heard of; and that they did that to us because, “they hated our freedoms.” (at least according to GWB and his brain team – whomever made up the whole project to begin with).

And so it began; the dismantling of our Constitution by an Authoritarian/Fascist regime, similar to Frankenstein and his monster experiment, but far closer in terms of comparable ideology to the same situation in Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia. In fact, in terms of Germany’s Constitution at the time, Hitler did the very same thing. He never officially abandoned or outlawed the original Weimer Constitution, but he still made up the rules as he went along, and changed them based on his own insane rationale. Cheney’s regime did the same, beginning with the Judicial Coup of 2000 that put them in power to begin with. It’s all been ‘accomplished’ in the name of ‘national security’.

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By cyrena, April 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

2 of 2

The ‘accomplishment’ has been to destabilize our own American socio-political/economic structure, via these very established practices of TERROR!! Terrorize the public by changing the “rules/laws” arbitrarily, and run a parallel government in the shadow of the ostensible government bureaucracy, which is what the Dick Bush regime did, so that it appears that no one is in charge, and the ‘policies’ change from day to day. It terrorizes not only us, but of course the rest of the globe as well. We did the same thing to Iraq and Afghanistan, who were not necessarily ‘beacons of freedom and democracy’ BEFORE we invaded them, but still functioning societies (at least Iraq certainly was) before we destroyed them via the same terror.

Meantime, I managed to escape that environment shortly after the first Coup, and make my way back to civilization and the intellectual freedom of the academy, (to the extent that hasn’t also been very politicized as well…since the neocons are deeply embedded within the apparatus.) Still, it’s been one hell of a terrorizing experience for those who have actually been paying attention, as the eight years of destruction were playing out, because we could see (even before it actually happened in real time) EXACTLY what the outcome would be!! It’s been like watching a massive train wreck in slow motion.
So when Eric Holder says this:

•  “There is always prosecutorial discretion,” Holder said. “I will try to apply the law and facts as best I can, working with the career prosecutors.”

I KNOW what a hell of a job he’s got on his hands, especially since the MCA literally immunizes them, on the domestic level,  and that’s what they’re calling the ‘policy differences’. It’s true, the ‘policy’ is criminal, but the Congress passed it anyway when they passed the Military Commissions Act in 2006. Even then, there was still a limited portion of the population who had a clue, and we were being marginalized, and demonized from the beginning as some sort of “subversives” (remember how the right Cabal demonized Cindy Sheehan for questioning our presence in Iraq after her son’s death?) and so it has taken some time (a LONG TIME) for American’s to start to ‘get it’ and even then, half of them are still too ideologically challenged by their personal/internal bigotries and old time thinking to even get it now.

In fact, much of what continues to appall me is that so many (not all but many) of the same critics of the Obama Administration’s handling of this so far, are ones who didn’t say diddly squat when these criminal precedents were being set, and even written into US Law and PASSED by the US Congress. (The MCA being among the most onerous and a total violation of every Universal and US Constitutional Law known to man or woman.)

So it’s taken, in many cases, well over 6 years for a huge portion of the population to even figure out what has happened to us, let alone HOW we came to be high-jacked by a fascist regime. (although I have noticed that Truthdig has been doing a good job at linking related pieces).

Holder and his team are gonna have to do some serious legal gymnastics here to prosecute them based on our own laws prohibiting this practice. That doesn’t PREVENT the International Court from doing it as well, and I personally think that should also happen. I wanna see these guys prosecuted at the Hague for ALL of their War Crimes and other Crimes Against Humanity.

The Bush Administration’s Stunning Geneva Hypocrisy
Monday 20 April 2009

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report
“While making allegations of Geneva Conventions abuses by Saddam’s troops in Iraq, Bush administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld were authorizing violations of the Geneva Conventions.”

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, April 25, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

RE: ...the right decision.


The right decision would be to address the cause of the piracy:

Now, the new “Great Game of Hunting Somali Pirates,” may be a precursor to reestablishing U.S. control in the region - i.e. bases for AFRICOM.

The “piracy in Somalia has its origin among disgruntled fishermen who had to compete with illegal poaching by foreign commercial vessels in its tuna-rich coastal waters”, writes former Indian ambassador M. K. Bhadrakumar.

“At some 3,300 kilometres, Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa. With a fertile upswelling where the ocean reaches Africa’s Horn, the seas are rich in tuna, swordfish and shark, as well as coastal beds of lobster and valuable shrimp. (Daniel Howden and Abdinasir Mohamed Guled, Independent, November 14, 2008)

“The pirates are actually a blessing in disguise. They provide an excuse for the administration to beef up it’s military presence and put down roots. . . .

“When the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2005 washed ashore on the east coast of Africa, it uncovered a great scandal. Tons of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals drifted onto the beaches after the giant wave dislodged them from the sea bed off Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalis fell ill after coming into contact with this cocktail. They complained to the United Nations (UN), which began an investigation. . . .

“In 2006 Somali fishermen complained to the UN that foreign fishing fleets were using the breakdown of the state to plunder their fish stocks. These foreign fleets often recruited Somali militias to intimidate local fishermen. Despite repeated requests, the UN refused to act.” (Mike Whitney, Global Research, December 2, 2008)

The scramble for Africa’s resources is acclerating.

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, April 25, 2009 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

RE: organization that killed thousands of American civilians…

Correction: a band of patsies fingered as arch bogymen in the most heinous false flag black-op/provocation of all time.

In light of this, why torture anyone?

The Global Torture Gulag is literally the “cutting edge” of the most dramatically incisive psychological covert operation of all time: The Global War Of Terror!

Rendered here for eternity - The Empire at the precipice of its fall - an “Iliad” for our time:

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, April 25, 2009 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Re: By AFriend, April 25 at 6:39 am:

“AFriend”? AFriend of whom? Aipac?

Your notion of “exculpatory evidence” is pretty damn loony.

I suppose you subscribe to Dick Cheney’s notion that if we can show that “it worked”, it’s OK?

That’s like saying, “I robbed a bank the other day. But, hey, before you tell me that was a crime, let me explain: it worked. My purpose was to obtain a whole lot of money, and what do you know? — after I robbed the bank, I did suddenly have a whole lot of money!”

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By AFriend, April 25, 2009 at 3:39 am Link to this comment

Ed Harges,

You see brilliance where I see numerous rookie mistakes.

The administration ignored near-uniform pleadings by respected intelligence professionals, including his own CIA Director, to keep the interrogation descriptions classified, yet refused to declassify the evidence that the interrogations saved countless American lives. Obama highlighted the alleged sins while withholding (often directly redacting) the context, the justifications, and the practical benefits gained. Then his administration went even farther. Not only did it refuse to declassify the exculpatory intelligence, but also it selectively and misleadingly edited a memo by its own national intelligence director about the program.

As reported by the New York Times’ Peter Baker, intelligence director Dennis Blair wrote a memo that included these lines: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country.” Baker then reported: “Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

That last deleted line read as follows: “I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time….”

Without Baker’s reporting, those highly important judgments by Obama’s own appointee would have been buried from public view, thus stacking the deck against those whom Blair would absolve. Such dishonesty from a White House borders on the Nixonian – and violates every reasonable American’s innate sense of justice.

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By AFriend, April 25, 2009 at 3:09 am Link to this comment


—Days ago, three Somali pirates held an American captive for ransom and threatened his life. The U.S. President ordered them shot through their respective heads. Small hole going in, big one coming out. Even though Somali pirates have never harmed an American seaman, it was the right decision.

—Years ago, the CIA used several enhanced interrogation techniques on 28 captives from an organization that killed thousands of American civilians. When in CIA custody the al-Qaida detainee would face an interrogator.

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, April 24, 2009 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

re: By Folktruther, April 24 at 7:59 pm:

I am not claiming that there will be prosecutions of Cheney and friends. What I am claiming is that Obama’s release of this material is evidence that he wishes to increase the pressure for prosecutions - at all levels.

My belief is based on a simple syllogism:

1. Only if Obama were stupid would he have released these documents while firmly desiring that there be no prosecutions, because only a stupid person could not have foreseen that release would vastly increase the pressure for prosecutions at all levels.

2. Obama is demonstrably not stupid.

3. Ergo, Obama must have released this material at least in part because  he wishes to increase the pressure for prosecutions; and he is dissimulating — lying, if you will — when he claims to oppose bringing those responsible to justice.

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By Folktruther, April 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Both senior Dem and Gop leaders have been complicit in approving torture.  And the US is still practicing it under Obama in prisons around the world.  It is a vital part of the wars against populations, such as Israel’s war against the Palestinian population and the Iraqi and Afghanistan population.

How can Holder prosecute Gop leaders when Dem leaders were complicit, and Obama is now practicing it.

Ed Harges, you are living in a dream world.  There will be no prosecution for torture against the Gop leaders who know where all the bodies are buried.  Cheney is defiant and contemptious, with the Zionists and other power figures behind him.

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tropicgirl's avatar

By tropicgirl, April 24, 2009 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

Please, Mr. Holder, do what the American people want.

Obama and the politicians have NO SAY over this. If they try to stop it, THEY ARE COMING VERY CLOSE TO BEING INCRIMINATED ALSO. Especially since they WON"T be able to stop it. Think twice Obama. Its pretty clear that the senate intelligence committee members will have to be on the hot seat also. We’ve got them where they should be and we won’t let go.

To stay bipartisan is the way to go. Put Pelosi and Reid in the defendant chair along side of the Republicans. That will solve the political problem.

And, if the torture is still going on, which by many reports it IS, then I don’t see why we don’t prosecute Obama also.

Holder will go down in history as a hero while Obama is sinking fast as an “equivocator in chief”. (I could never vote for that man again).

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JustTheFacts's avatar

By JustTheFacts, April 24, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

If nothing comes of this as far as justice is concerned and a price isn’t also paid these national and international crimes…then all is lost on this being a nation of the people. The rational public should have such a deafening outcry, that this issue can not be ignored by any means. I’ll admit that I voted for Obama, but if his approach is passe’ on this issue (Administrative high crimes and misdemeanors) then it’s curtains for him politically and history may be more crueler on him than Bush as far as his Presidential legacy goes…just being honest

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, April 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

RE: very carefully riding this wave which they purposely generated,

One wonders if they know what kind of hornets nest they’re reaching into…e.g. KSM’s torture - 183 waterboardings and the much trumpeted treasure trove of intel he supposedly spilled; consider this:

South Asia Times - Oct 30, 2002

A chilling inheritance of terror
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Ever since the frenzied shootout last month on September 11 in Karachi there have been doubts over whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed head of al-Qaeda’s military committee, died in the police raid on his apartment.

Certainly, another senior al-Qaeda figure, Ramzi Binalshibh, widely attributed as being the coordinator of the September 11 attacks on the United States a year earlier, was taken alive and handed over to the US. The latest information is that he is on a US warship somewhere in the Gulf.

Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)...they identified the Shaikh Mohammed’s body as their husband and father. The body was kept in a private NGO mortuary for 20 days before being buried, under the surveillance of the FBI, in a graveyard in the central district of Karachi.

complete story -

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, April 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

Holder and Obama are doing this very well so far. They released all this damning information - an unprecedented move in the history of presidencies - knowing intending that it would create a tsunami of calls for prosecutions, and now they are very carefully riding this wave which they purposely generated, while pretending to be reluctantly forced to hold Bush’s torturers accountable. It’s brilliant. The pretense of reluctance is so well played, many of my beloved fellow liberals actually believe it.

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By Thomas O. Anderson, April 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

Just as Nazi officials laughed at their trial (for they didn’t think they had done any wrong) the Bush Gang, too, proudly smile and try to justify their supreme world crimes.

Make no mistake about it, Holder and Obama are planning on allowing these criminals to walk, roam free, and regroup to come back another day.

Barack Obama, the new imperial shill who fraudulently rode to power on a Peace Train, is no longer just a political con man…. He’s a danger to our future and posterity.

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