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Eric Holder Signals No Prosecutions of Bush War Criminals

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"’It would be completely wrong if a senator said, 'I'll vote for you if you promise to withhold prosecution of a crime'," Leahy told me. "No senator would make a request like that. It'd be improper."

“Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a Judiciary panel member and former federal prosecutor, had a similar response when questioned about the likelihood of Holder making the ‘assurances’ that Bond believes were offered.

"’It sounds a little improbable ... it's, frankly, improper for members of Congress to demand [a pre-determinative stance on] prosecutions.’”

Schor concludes: “Sounds like the Times report should be taken with a full shaker of salt.”


The problem with Schor’s conclusion here is that the GOP senator, Kit Bond, in this case, is actually being the more candid and accurate of the parties in this action. Sen. Bond did not misunderstand what Holder told him privately. Key senators do not withdraw their opposition to a nominee on the basis of misconstruing what a nominee really means. That is not how Washington politics work in such high-stakes games.


The signs of what Holder and Obama intend are clear from Holder’s written statement for the record. ‘[W]here 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.”


The phrase in quotes within Holder’s comment comes from Sen. Kyl’s question to Holder. As anyone who has been following this saga when Bush justified his torture policies, Bush repeatedly referred to having “alternative interrogation techniques” signed off on by attorneys at the Justice Department and the White House. They’re legal because attorneys said so, he said over and over again.


This is rather like the mafia godfather saying that he treats no one in an untoward fashion since he’s checked with his lawyers on everything he does, and they have assured him that it’s all copasetic. For the soon-to-be US Attorney General to be citing these transparently self-serving and worthless “legal” opinions as “authoritatively permitting” government agents’ actions is both ludicrous and ominous in the extreme.


Moreover, what Holder has conspicuously left out of this “answer” is the fact that torture as policy originated from the very top by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bybee, Yoo, and the rest of this horrid gang. Systematic torture was not merely or mainly the actions of some unnamed “government agents.”


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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)
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