Is Eric Holder Tacitly About To Ratify Bush Administration War Crimes?

The opening of this article in the Los Angeles Times seems promising. Almost exciting!

Reporting from Washington — U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. is poised to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuses committed during the interrogation of terrorism suspects, current and former U.S. government officials said.

Wow! Could it be the breakthrough for which we’ve been hoping?

A senior Justice Department official said that Holder envisioned an inquiry that would be narrow in scope, focusing on “whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized” in Bush administration memos that liberally interpreted anti-torture laws.

Remind anyone of the Abu Ghraib investigation? Focusing on the lower ranking officials- making them the fall guys and gals- while allowing the people actually responsible to go free? Because this isn’t just a question of what the CIA officers did, this is a question of whether they were authorized by top level government officials to commit war crimes. Like by the president. And the vice president. And the secretary of defense. And the national security advisor. And the White House counsel, who became the attorney general. And the director of the CIA. And others.

Make no mistake: the techniques that were authorized were war crimes. They also were war crimes. And war crimes. And as someone once said:

I believe that waterboarding was torture.

Which would be a war crime. But as the Times article continues:

Obama and Holder have both said that they believe waterboarding constitutes torture. But an investigation would pose thorny political problems for the administration, and probably draw criticism over questions of fairness.

“An investigation that focuses only on low-ranking operators would be, I think, worse than doing nothing at all,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Worse than doing nothing at all. Think about it.


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  1. seems to be the choice we face in every instance of the governments agenda. Sadly were told to shut up and deal with it. The grip of the status quo who own the place extends to every issue. This one is at the heart of all the others as it is clearly a direct defiance of our laws. It shows most clearly that our system has come to the point where the rulers, and their mouthpieces and ATM’s our supposed  representatives are above the law. If they commit crimes then the laws are changed to make them unaccountable. This is the ‘change we get, the immoral, the criminals, and the undemocratic gets codifies into being the law of the land. The power is consolidated and it’s not going to be restored to we the people or common good or even the Law.        

  2. Now I have Nothing. “Change” is going to be Less Than Nothing, i.e. it will cost me for the privilege of purchasing Nothing.

    Makin us pay for our own Rape Kit.

    Same thing here.

    Prosecuting whoever didn’t stick to The (Yoo/Cheney) Code is bullshit. The Code itself is the frikkin Crime of the Century! Gawd.

    Good piece today over at Greenwald (he’s on vacation, Digby sits in).

    One begins to see why the CIA is so threatened by all this. They are being asked to answer for something that makes no sense. (Obviously, they all have free will and could have declined to participate at all, but that’s another subject.)

    And, of course, even worse than all that (if that’s possible) is the fact that by validating John Yoo’s directives, they are also validating the idea that obscure Justice Department officials can be granted the authority to essentially immunize officials at all levels of the government, from the president down to the lowest field officer, by issuing a secret memo. This is very important new development in western jurisprudence and one that surely requires more study and consideration. If Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had known about this, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.

    Here’s the ACLU video and Action link … fwiw.

  3. is much like how I feel about everything else.

    This effort of Holder’s, should it actually be commenced, I fear, will be yet another attempt to appease the American people, attempt to satisfy the International laws and community, and ultimately, will be another watered down facade of “crumbs” to us.  Of course, I would prefer that the opposite were true, but so far we have no reason to believe much of anything else.

    And, I also fear that such an effort would ultimately remove the legal ability to proceed further into the war crimes, once such an investigation was concluded.  While I fear that, I’m not sure that that would be the case either!

    Thanks, Turkana!

  4. front paged it just now… well, the ACLU angle.

  5. in Iraq.  Proven, and even admitted. Estimates of over 1 million dead, 6000 coalition soldiers dead, over 100,000 injured and maimed and many more fucked up for life because of PTSD and cancers from whatever they were subjected to while there.  I would trade torture prosecutions in a minute for prosecutions that would hold these assholes accountable for war, and possibly prevent such a thing from happening in the future.  

    • Edger on August 10, 2009 at 22:14

    OR… he’s got some sort of eleven dimensional “open a pandora’s box and let it all come flying out” plan in mind.

    If it’s the first, which I think it probably is, it won’t be surprising. It seems to be the usual way of things from one administration to the next for most of history.

    If it’s the second, he will have covered himself and protected his boss by having succeeded in getting a prosecutor appointed and an investigation begun that may expand in scope through it’s own momentum as evidence of who gave what orders to whom all the way up the line and connections come to light, without having drawn a media attack circus from the right wing until after an investigation has begun and it’s too late for them to stop it.

    His “narrow scope” leaks may be to calm the right and give them very little to attack it over, iow. They’d look pretty foolish and cut their own throats if they started screaming that it shouldn’t have “narrow scope”.

    It’s a possibility, though I’m not big on attributing eleven dimensional capabilities to Obama, Holder is highly intelligent and may have more capacity for machiavellianism.

    • Adam on August 10, 2009 at 23:52

    A cat, a cheezburger, and a metal cage containing a taser, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the taser is switched on, torturing the cat to death. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive enjoying his cheezburger and tortured to death. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either eati ng the cheezburger or tortured to death, not a mixture of alive and dead.

  6. the release of government held extra-terrestrial information and other topics

    Free energy devices

    Ancient structures on Mars

    911 truth

    Evil globalism

  7. I believe sometimes people NEED to face these things, even when what they want to do is read about pooties and tell us all to STFU, lest health care be compromised.  Oops!  What happened there?  

    Not that I am as brave as that, but you are a deity after all.  

    • Valtin on August 11, 2009 at 04:05

    for reading past the spin lede and getting to the real meat of the issue.

    We must come to this: when it comes to war and national security, we need to fight back against the Obama administration. Bush and Cheney are gone. They should be brought to stand before the dock of the law. But that, and the policies of the present, means we must take on the Obama administration, just as once we had to take on the Democratic Party alliance that existed under LBJ and Hubert Humphrey.

  8. I really have to wonder who, other than Holder, the Obama administration is going to for legal advice on this issue.

    Do they realize where they are going with this?  Do they understand that they are treading into an area of covering up war crimes?

    Last year, Cass Sunstein told everyone at Netroots Nation that he did not believe we should prosecute the crimes of the Bush admin., so it’s not exactly a surprise.  At the time, I thought maybe, Obama and his advisors just wanted to play this close to the vest until they were in office.  But it turns out that Sunstein meant what he said.

    As usual, Glenn Greenwald was right on the money in his article about this subject.

    But the hypocrisy is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.  Sunstein is married to the great humanitarian and passionate advocate of human rights, fighter against cruelty, Samantha Power.  Huh?

    UPDATE II: On a side (though not entirely unrelated) note, the aforementioned Obama friend, Cass Sunstein — protector of Bush lawbreakers, advocate of illegal Bush spying and radical presidential powers, and fierce critic of blogs as “anti-democratic” — earlier this month married beloved Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power. It’s amazing how these sorts of circles always end up being so cozily closed.

    Just because Ford and Bush 41 and Clinton chose to overlook and/or pardon the crimes of their predecessors, doesn’t mean that Obama will viewed in the same light when he refuses to hold torturers and architects of torture accountable.  Things are different this time around.  Bush and Cheney were condemned for their crimes by people all around the world.  There are countries considering trials for war crimes.  The Obama administration is now treading into war crimes territory themselves.  They really need to come to their senses on this, and quickly, and remember how they promised to be different from the status quo who came before them.

    • Joy B. on August 12, 2009 at 17:14

    …is primarily to head the Spanish inquisition off at the pass, because despite the fact that we can ignore the World Court and international law (as well as our own ‘Law of the Land’), if push comes to shove none of the players in the last administration – or this one if they screw this up – will be safe on European soil henceforth.

    I do not think such an investigation can be “narrow” in scope, aimed solely at those who tortured their prisoners to death. Which is how this is framed, since everything short of death is supposedly presumed legal. That’s all just plain murder, any DA or JAG could (and long ago should have) prosecuted. Once the lid is opened, the legality of torture and pertinence of ORDERS to torture have to be ruled upon. If it is deemed legal, the occasional “oops” of having a prisoner die in a war situation moves from murder to possible negligent homicide and isn’t likely to get more than a slap on the wrist – if that much, given legal orders and a hot war.

    So there would be exactly zip reason to bother with an investigation at all.

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