Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that he will “follow the law” in deciding whether to pursue criminal charges against Bush officials for the torture program. While first reported as a major advance, the statement conspicuously does not mention the appointment of a special prosecutor, an essential component to any investigation since the Justice Department featured heavily in these allegations.
Holder stated “We are going to follow the evidence, follow the law and take that where it leads. No one is above the law.” That is a great statement and much appreciated. However, the Justice Department should not be investigating itself. The Justice Department is notorious for a certain lack of vigor in the investigation of its own attorneys and any investigation without a special prosecutor from outside of the department would be viewed with considerable skepticism. There is an obvious conflict of interest and it is again bizarre (and worrisome) that Holder is resisting such an obvious step.
In the meantime, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a timeline on the program. Sen. Jay Rockefeller released the declassified report. Rockefeller has been a source of considerable criticism for his alleged knowledge of the unlawful surveillance and torture programs for years and his role in blocking any serious investigation. The timeline indicates that the work on the torture program began before the legal memos used later as a defense by Bush officials.
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