US Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a special prosecutor (Ed Durham) for the alleged purpose of investigating CIA “excesses and abuses” of the interrogation of detainees. From what has been discussed in the media for a long time, this seems poorly focused. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, true to form, has once again this past weekend sung his favorite song about “how the ends justify the means”.
Reports indicate that the CIA did not want the responsibility of interrogating anyone but never the less were tapped by the Bush Administration. We know also that the Justice Department, under former Attorney General John Ashcroft, worked diligently to find someone like Jonathan Yoo, who would write opinions that defined torture as akin to organ failure. We know that these rulings were requested by the CIA for their legal protection, and can rationally assume that protection was not lost on White House officials. And we now know that a wisw range of “enhanced interrogation” techniques were used on detainees with one detainee being waterboarded over 100 times. How can this be a case of excesses and abuses? This was clearly a case of Government Policy.
The question is how can anyone in the CIA, at the “hands on” interrogation level, be guilty of anything when the Vice President and the Justice Department were on record for endorsing their methods. It was not a question of ambiguity but rather one of prerogative. As Richard Nixon once said, “if the President says its ok, than it is legal”. This was debunked once and should be again.
The greatest mistake that Special Prosecutor Durham could make is do a rerun of the Abu Ghraib charade. “They were just “bad apples”, proclaimed the White House. Later we were to learn that the degrading and disgusting photos were really the result of an overall license which taught subordinates to think of detainees as things, not humans. The source of the Abu Ghraib disgrace and the excess of CIA interrogation are the same, Government policy.
Former Vice President Cheney declared this weekend that he might not cooperate with this “political” investigation. I wonder what he will say when he, himself, becomes the target?