Attorney General Holder Considering Appointment of Special Prosecutor But Devil is In the Details. We Need a Full-Fledged, Independent Investigation and Prosecution
Reports over the weekend indicate that Attorney General Holder is seriously considering appointing a special prosecutor to investigate torture and other abuses during the Bush-Cheney administration.
This would be a major reversal and indicates that efforts for torture accountability are paying off. We are close to success but pressure is mounting to prevent a prosecution so those who favor holding torturers accountable, including those who created and facilitated the policy, need to increase their efforts at this critical time.
Already, there is a strong reaction trying to thwart the appointment of a special prosecutor from leading Republicans like Senator John McCain and Rep. Peter King. McCain warned such a prosecution would give terrorists "more tools." And King urged a "scorched earth policy" of non-cooperation by Republicans on all issues if a prosecution goes forward.
And, in the White House political advisors David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel oppose a probe because of the impact it might have on the president's legislative agenda.
But, under the law the Attorney General has no choice. The Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan and now the law of the land, requires an investigation and prosecution if torture has occurred. There are no excuses. If Holder is going to begin to revive the credibility of the Department of Justice as a law enforcement agency and not a political tool of the White House, he has no choice but to uphold the law.
Newsweek reports that four sources tell them the Attorney General is leaning toward the appointment and has already requested ten names of potential prosecutors. Scott Horton, the Atlantic's torture reporter, writes in the Daily Beast, that two sources confirm the reports to him.
There are still issues that could turn this potential success into a failure. One is whether the probe will be broad enough to include the policy makers who were responsible. If not, it will be a whitewash that sets a precedent for future president's and vice president's that they will not be held accountable for war crimes. The Washington Post indicates torture policy makers would not be investigated and the probe would be limited to those who went beyond the limits of the DOJ memos. Scott Horton is reporting a broader investigation would be authorized. Citizen pressure right now could make the difference of a real investigation or a phony one.
It would be a grave error to limit the inquiry to those outside of the DOJ memos since that legal analysis was flawed and manipulated. Indeed, how the White House manipulated the Justice Department must be investigated in order to return any credibility to the agency as one that upholds the law and is apolitical. The appointment of a special prosecutor is likely to come at the same time that DOJ releases an Office of Professional Responsibility report on the legal memos and whether the authors should be disbarred.
We are asking you to take three actions:
Attorney General Holder. The
letter we have drafted indicates that the rule of law demands a
full-fledged torture investigation, that the authors of the memos that
facilitated torture should be recommended for disbarment and that the
special prosecutor should be truly independent and allowed to fully
investigate the facts and apply the law to the highest levels of
government. The Justice Department
reputation for independence cannot be restored without a full
investigation, including holding DOJ officials responsible for their actions.
President Obama to tell him that political considerations are
secondary to upholding the rule of law.
Just as he lectured the people of Africa in Ghana this
weekend "You have the power to hold your leaders accountable," Americans
have the same power and responsibility.
President Obama needs to make it clear that DOJ is independent of
the White House, this is the Attorney General's decision and
de-politicizing the issue by applying the rule of law is best for the
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