Reports indicate that Attorney General Eric Holder is close to naming a prosecutor to look into interrogation abuse, but that he is going to structure the investigation to protect high-ranking officials from investigation for war crimes. While Holder admits that waterboarding is torture, he is reportedly going to allow only the investigation into whether some interrogations went beyond the torture guidelines set by the Justice Department — which allowed for waterboarding.
The investigation is being described as “narrow” and would exclude torture permitted by the Justice Department. It is a towering example of the conflict of interest in the Justice Department handling this investigation. The first thing that it will do is reaffirm its own legal analysis permitting the commission of a well-defined war crime.
It would essentially punish people who “tortured too much,” a standard that is not only shameful but in clear violation of our international obligations. It also reaffirms (as the Obama Administration has done before) that “just following orders” is now viewed by the United States as a viable defense to war crimes.
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