Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Holder lets it go

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department intends to wrap up its investigation into the CIA’s past interrogation, rendition, and detention activities.  Federal prosecutor John Durham determined that no further law enforcement action is appropriate.

Here's what CIA Director Leon Panetta had to say about the Justice Department decision:  "After extensive examination of more than 100 instances in which CIA had contact or was alleged to have had contact with terrorist detainees, [Durham] has determined that no further law enforcement action is appropriate in all but two discrete cases."

Isn't that reassuring?

There is still the possibility of criminal charges being filed in two specific cases.  They are:  1) the case of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who, in 2005, died of "asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression", and that his body showed "evidence of blunt force trauma to the chest and legs"; 2) the case of Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi who, in 2003 was murdered while in the custody of US military personnel.

But, of course, what this means is that the CIA is looking for scapegoats.  At most, we'll see prosecution of a few low-level soldiers or private contractors, some public tut-tutting, and a quick wrap-up.  No "moving up the chain;" no accountability for Bush administration officials who authorized torture.

Holder's statement indicates that the Obama administration is on board with all of it.  Small wonder.  Between the ever-increasing drone attacks conducted in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, and the summary assassination of an American citizen last year, the Obama administration has plenty of dirt under its own fingernails.  One thing on which Democrats and Republicans agree is that no one wants any messy examinations of constitutional abuses by the executive branch.  The 911 attacks provided the opportunity to expand authoritarian power.  Neither side wants to mess that up.

Not-so-conincidentally, on the very day that the Justice Department made its announcement, the Senate voted to confirm General David Petraeus as the CIA's new director, to replace Panetta, who is stepping down.  Petraeus, at his confirmation hearings, had this to say about the matter:

“We do not any longer truly, I think, appreciate the context of the post-9/11 period and some actions that were taking place under direction.  And I, for one, again, as the potential leader of the agency, would like to see us focus forward and indeed put some of these actions behind us once and for all and put our workforce at rest with respect to that.”


Republic to Empire is a one-way street and we're more than halfway down the block.

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