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Ear to the Ground

AG to Appoint Torture Prosecutor

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Posted on Aug 24, 2009
Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder is said to have reacted with disgust earlier this year when he first read classified accounts of the abusive treatment of detainees.

Although President Obama and others who were privy to information about alleged prisoner abuse by CIA employees and contractors previously passed on the possibility of prosecution, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has taken a different tack after reviewing the cases.  —KA

Update: The Washington Post reported Monday that Holder will tap prosecutor John Durham to head the investigation. Sources tell the paper his mandate “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.”

The New York Times:

The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.

The recommendation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, presented to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in recent weeks, comes as the Justice Department is about to disclose on Monday voluminous details on prisoner abuse that were gathered in 2004 by the C.I.A.’s inspector general but have never been released.

When the C.I.A. first referred its inspector general’s findings to prosecutors, they decided that none of the cases merited prosecution. But Mr. Holder’s associates say that when he took office and saw the allegations, which included the deaths of people in custody and other cases of physical or mental torment, he began to reconsider.

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By Amelia, August 28, 2009 at 10:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You raise a good point i never thought of. Why not go after Bush/Cheny? AFter all like they were the leaders in charge of all this mayhem during those 8 years. They ok’d all the torture. everyone else physically did the torture, but under the government’s authority. Bush should suffer for the so-called “terrorism.” He’s a freakin idiot.

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By ChaoticGood, August 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

If this kind of torture had taken place under a Democratic President, then the right-wingers would be all over this like stink. 

But, of course, since this was a Republican President who okayed the torture, then lets look forward and not back because that is the American thing to do and also to convict those that broke the law while serving under Bush cannot be prosecuted because they were hunting for terrorists plots.

Another hipocrasy from the party of hipocrits.

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By ardee, August 24, 2009 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

This is a fine example of why, in my opinion, our fundamentals of government are sound. Contrast this Attorney General with Alberto Gonzales who basically was a sock puppet for Bush.

Despite the position of the President, one I believe very wrong, the highest law enforcer in the nation decides to move against what he perceives might prove to be serious violations of the law. Is this not how the workings of government were supposed to proceed?

Hamilton noted that men are not angels and governments are run by men:

” But what is govt itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels no govt would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on govt would be necessary. In framing a govt which is to be administered by men over men, the greatest difficulty lies in this; you must first enable the govt to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”  Federalist Paper # 51

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By Robert Cunningham, August 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I appreciate the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, I don’t understand why Attorney General Eric Holder would appoint John Durham to do the job, since he performed the very same investigation, in 2008, after being picked for the job by former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey. 

Or is it that the appointment mollifies the left’s bloodthirst for an investigation, while it minimizes the chance for any real prosecution?

Curiouser and curiouser!

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By dihey, August 24, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

The middle-of-the-road Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad has published today an interview with Bruce Fein, the former undersecretary of Justice in President Reagan’s administration. Fein minces no words. In the end he concludes in essence with: If the actual torturers and their masterminds are not prosecuted (and thereby given a chance to defend themselves in court) we have become a banana republic.

The original interview was published on April 24, 2009. Today’s version is a revised one.

It appears to me that the Obama administration is on the road to make us a banana republic with a banana President and a banana cabinet.

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By Scipio Africanus, August 24, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

As feared, Holder appears poised to take the easy way out: go after the little guys who carried out the mayhem and murder rather than the big boys (Bush/Cheney) who ordered it….a repeat of the Abu Ghraib prosecutions, only for low-level civilians this time out. No “Profile in Courage” nominee this one….

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