As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Holder's Promise

Put me down in agreeing that this is an outright lie.

President Obama's choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won't prosecute intelligence officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration's policy of "enhanced interrogations."

Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.'s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama's Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

Mr. Holder's promise apparently was key to moving his nomination forward. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17-2 to favorably recommend Holder for the post. He is likely to be confirmed by the Senate soon.

I just don't believe that any lawyer would agree not to prosecute a client before knowing all the facts of the case. And while I could believe that a Democrat on Obama's "moving forward, not backward" team would do so, I'd then have to take the word of Kit Bond as true, which is never a good option. I'm basically with emptywheel on this.

That said, I suspect Kit Bond is spinning Holder's clear statements with regards to those who implemented Bush's policies into statements about those who crafted Bush's policies.

Note how Holder answered this question in written RFQs:

Mr. Holder indicated that he would not prosecute any intelligence officers who participated in the interrogation program and who had followed Justice Department guidance.

"Prosecutorial and investigative judgments must depend on the facts and no one is above the law, Mr. Holder wrote. But where 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."

Holder gave written assurances about those who relied on John Yoo's crappy opinions. That's basically what Arlen Specter said Holder had said in assurances to other Republicans.

But now Kit Bond is out there saying Holder gave him assurances about not just "intelligence officers" (which is what he said in his written response) but "political appointees" and, later, "political leaders."

Now, maybe Holder really did say he wouldn't go after people like John Yoo and Dick Cheney and others who deliberately violated national and international law. But I think it just as likely (and more typical of Holder's legalistic style) that Kit Bond is talking out of his ass to pressure Holder to avoid looking into the actions of Bush and Cheney. Hell. Holder hasn't even been read into the illegal wiretapping program yet. It would be the easiest thing in the world for him to say, "Well, I had no idea that Bush deliberately violated Congress' law prohibiting any funds from being spent on TIA" if he were to pursue charges.

An aide to Holder is denying that any promise was made to Bond or any other Republican, and frankly, Holder's more trustworthy at this point. He should be asked the question personally, but my suspicion is that this is a means of pressure, to go along with the pressure of a lunatic DC establishment trying to absolve themselves of blame for war crimes. read Glenn Greenwald on this as well. The fact that the establishment has about 200 different ways to punish the poor severely for any offense they commit but blush at the mere suggestion that one of their own should be held accountable for their crimes is perverse. We do not have a justice system in this country, if you want to be honest. We have a punishment/power system, and an inverse relationship between the two.

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