Wink and a Nod? Sen. Kit Bond States That Holder Secured His Vote By Privately Promising Not to Prosecute Any War Crimes

160px-kit_bond_official_portraitholderericSen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R., Mo.), the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has told The Washington Times that Eric Holder privately assured him that there would be no prosecution of Bush officials for torture or unlawful acts. The story is reminiscent of last week’s statement by Gen. Michael Hayden that he was assured by President Obama that there would be no investigations or prosecutions allowed for war crimes committed by the Bush Administration. I discussed this story and the recent ACLU demand for the release of the torture and surveillance memos on this segment of Countdown.

Sen. Bond says that Holder secured his vote with the promise and the story has added to concerns by civil libertarians that the Democrats are playing another game of bait and switch on the issue: pretending to consider prosecution while privately assuring Republicans that no one will be held accountable.

While Holder denies the statement (and Obama denies the statement to Hayden), these concerns would be put to rest if the Administration would simply say that any alleged crimes will be investigated and, when the evidence warrants it, any accused criminals will be prosecuted. War crimes are not matters of discretionary politics. The fact that they are still not making that simple statement adds credibility to such accounts.

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75 thoughts on “Wink and a Nod? Sen. Kit Bond States That Holder Secured His Vote By Privately Promising Not to Prosecute Any War Crimes”

  1. I was making a play on words as in blood pressure ‘O’ neg – get it…
    ‘out for blood’ etc.

    I don’t think the way to win friends and influence people is to blow in to town with a chip on your shoulder threatening/promising prosecutions when the first thing you need to do is plug the dike with something other than your middle finger, as it were.

    What is wrong with just saying “This is what we want’. We understand it can’t be TODAY, but this is our expectation after eight long and disappointing years”…???

  2. Some great posts tonight. I have been a huge supporter of Obama and I have not been shy in stating that I will not hesitate to call Obama out if he disappoints those of us who believe in the rule of law. Buddha is correct when he says you can’t trust anyone without supervision. Our Democracy requires us to be active participants. I believe that Holder is saying the right things. I also believe that he will prosecute anyone who is found to have broken the law. That includes Bush/Cheney etal. If I am wrong, Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama will be hearing from me and from many others.

  3. Patty,

    I’m not sure how the two are related. How does your not supporting pressure on the administration (by implication, “usually all for it”) relate to Jill changing her mind? If you want to call her hypocritical, okay, that’s your choice, but as a matter of form I’m not seeing a causal connection between (previously/currently) trusting/distrusting Obama and the tactical decision that pressure is the best way to make sure the ball isn’t dropped on the issue of prosecuting war crimes? I’m not being provocative. I just don’t see the relation. I don’t see if for two reasons.

    I campaigned for Obama and voted for him. But I don’t trust him much by nature of what he calls his profession – politician. Trust is earned and complete trust is something that should be and rarely is given. I trust him in certain ways, like I trust him to not start a nuclear war over someone else’s real estate issues or to appoint himself Emperor, something I could not say of any Republican candidate, but do I trust him to restore the Constitution without We The People riding him? Absolutely not. His stance on telecom immunity merits watching him alone. Doesn’t mean I’d rather have McSame and the Church Lady or that I want Bush to walk.

    And the second reason behind his nature is that the issue is simply just too important to trust ANYONE without blue sky supervision after the abuses of the last 8 years. So I don’t see how that fits in here, constructively.

  4. Can we please talk about another category of the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Administration, namely lying to Congress? Everyone’s focused on the war crimes but what about treason, i.e. endangering national security and betraying the nation by lying Congress and the American people into war, environmental disasters, and egregious profiteering that has ruined the U.S. economy. Every disaster has enriched the cronies of the Bushies [not a coincidence], and so the lies that led to the bankruptig [moral and fiscal] of the nation must be investigated as possible treason, yes?

  5. Buddha Is Laughing 1, January 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    ‘And I think Jill’s right tactically. Pressure is a win-win.’
    Keeping up the pressure is one thing. I’m usually all for it!

    But that is not been her position. She has been stating, for MONTHS now, that Obama is nothing but a smarmy politician whom she’ll never trust.

    Out for blood, she was overdrawn on the ‘O’ Neg before the election!

    This compilation called ‘Redefining Torture’ is a good overview of how we started down this path of convolution.

  6. I believe we need to keep the Kit Bond story in perspective. Although I do not know what transpired in any private meeting between Sen. Bond and Mr. Holder, if one reads the questions and answers carefully, it is apparent that Mr. Holder has said nothing more than that he would not seek to prosecute people in the absence of evidence of a crime; this is simply an assurance not to undertake prosecutions for political reasons. The irony, of course, is that those assurances are being sought by a party that never undertakes anything for other than political reasons. But the fact is that if Mr. Holder were to promise not to prosecute despite evidence of a crime, he would be violating his oath of office. If Sen. Bond were to ask him to make that promise, the senator would likewise be violating his oath of office. Moreover, each of them would be subject to bar disciplinary proceedings. I do agree with others on this thread who have expressed a need to do whatever is necessary to reinforce the intestinal fortitude of the Obama administration on this issue.

  7. janolan:

    “The Geneva convention is not applicable to the detainees at Gitmo due to their own actions.”


    That’s a broad statement sort of like saying that the law of Utah doesn’t apply to me living in Virginia. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t. You need the context and the question. In any event, clearly the Geneva Convention does apply to detainees like bin Laden’s former driver Salim Hamdan, imprisoned at Gitmo and subjected to “trial” by a military commission without a determination under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions as to POW status. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld the specific question before SCOTUS was, “May the rights protected by the Geneva Conventions be enforced in federal court through habeas corpus petitions filed by Gitmo detainees so affected?” The Court answered in the affirmative. Here’s the opinion summary from Oyez:

    “{I]n a 5-to-3 decision authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, [the Court] held that neither an act of Congress nor the inherent powers of the Executive laid out in the Constitution expressly authorized the sort of military commission at issue in this case. Absent that express authorization, the commission had to comply with the ordinary laws of the United States and the laws of war. The Geneva Convention, as a part of the ordinary laws of war, could therefore be enforced by the Supreme Court, along with the statutory Uniform Code of Military Justice. Hamdan’s exclusion from certain parts of his trial deemed classified by the military commission violated both of these, and the trial was therefore illegal.

  8. mespo,

    I was heading for estoppel as well, but I like your phrasing better.

  9. . . . and victory is mine.

    As it always will be.

    Good luck in 2012.

    Buh bye.

  10. Jason2L:

    ““other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions” if the Bush admin. lawfully sactioned whatever was done isnt that a get out of jail free card? At this point isnt the arguement about whether or not it was legal to legalize torture?”


    The assumption you make is that if the President/Administration says it’s lawful, then it must be lawful. That is erroneous logic and a usurpation of the role of the Courts. Nixon had the same blind spot. Just because a Chief Executive announces that torture is lawful doesn’t make it so, any more than a similar pronouncement about armed robbery would insulate perpetrators. It MAY give the underlings who act in reliance thereon an estoppel argument, but it does not insulate the giver of the order to violate the law. Also under international law, this type of Nuremberg defense has been specifically repudiated. If you are interested, Professor Turley has some very thought-provoking threads about this issue that you can find using the search function on the blog.

  11. I continue to be amazed by the incredibly high level of hypocricy of folks on the right who viilfy liberals for what they call “moral relativism” and then insist that despite all American traditions, treaties, legal opinions (including US Military Code of Justice) and US laws forbidding it, they keep trying to justify torture. It’s simply NOT what America is about and you either have the integrity to do what’s right when it’s difficult or you don’t.

    And so I ask Jonolan and Bron, etal: Why do they you America so?

  12. Buddha:

    I thought about it but since you wouldnt read it anyway why would I bother? And any argument I did make would come from an America is moral prism so my arguments would be ridiculed wether they were cogent or not.

    I will put this in a way all of you can understand:

    Bad guys bad need to defend against, Russia on rise, China big with big military, Chavez like Russians and China, China operates ports at either end of Panama Canal (Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.). Chavez instigator in South America. Russia has joint manuvers with Venezuela. Iran has nuke, China like Iran oil. China like mineral wealth of Africa. Europe no good to help US at this point.

    Big military good, big navy good US need to project power if not redo WWI and WWII and Korea. (only dead see end of war) so large military scare bad guys and keep peace, keep live people live.

    free trade good for world, bad guys not like free trade. if bad guys learn to like free trade then bad guys not be so bad.

    America not force bad guys to be good that bad. America should not act like policeman for world that bad cost too much money.

    if America act like Nazis not good, but America need to project strong front so bad guys think twice. If kid carry bat bully no so eager to fight.

    You can all rest assured this is my last posting and as such I have written it in such a manor as to show my utter contempt for your views, the idea that you think you will prevail in bringing Bush to trial for alleged war crimes is laughable at best, it is actually more of a wet dream. I actually thought the left had some intellectuals but since you are all parroting lefty intellectuals I now feel secure in the knowlege that the next 2 years wont be so bad and that in 2010 the congress will be a veto proof conservative majority. Enjoy your time bozos. Your worst nightmare is coming in 2012 an entire government of conservatives both house senate and president. Maybe they will try some of Obama’s cabinet for crimes against economies.

  13. The Mikes and Jill,

    I think the salient issue here is chain of command. It’s not the individual torturers that are import to prosecute although some may deserve it. It’s the one’s who issued the orders. They have no “reasonable reliance” to fall back on.

  14. Mike A. and mespo,

    O.K. you guys got me there. I wouldn’t have thought to look on that thread. I see I did misunderstand the meaning of “undermine” in mespo’s original post. My mistake and I’m sorry. I still have real reservations about Holder and Obama. There are both stating the same thing publically as they are said to claimed privately. The statement:

    “But where it is clear that a government agent has acted in ‘reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full-blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.” and Obama’s statement that he didn’t want “good people looking over their shoulder”, can’t just keep being dismissed as meaningless. This is, in my opinion, the propaganda campaign from the Obama administration trying to seed the public with rationsals for lack of prosecution. It comes from too many people in the admistration and is too consistent to just be random statements from individuals. I am hoping people do not think Obama is incapable of using a propaganda campaign.

    Mike A., I did understand your meaning on the R’s questions and agree with your analysis on it.

    Mike S., I agree that there is MSM speculation on Holder and Obama just because they don’t have much to do, but JT isn’t part of that and neither are people like me. I worry that Obama supporters are complacent and not questioning authority. This matters because if every person of conscience, supporter or not, doesn’t get off the dime and start screaming right now, Obama will know he can get away with anything. If it’s all a trick, he’ll be glad of the pressure, as it’s a back up for him. As far as I can tell, stong pressure on Obama is a win-win.

  15. What’s the matter, Bronnie? Train derailed?

    We’re still waiting for your reply about why we should all join PNAC. Remember, not your OPINION, but a PERSUASIVE ARGUMENT.

    I suspect we’ll be waiting for some time.

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