Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let The Inquisition Begin

Attorney General Eric "Torquemada" Holder has solved the problems of New Black Panther voter intimidation, crime in the cities, Islamic saboteurs at home and mass murderers abroad, so he now turns his mighty political talents to the true international criminals--the CIA interrogators who dared to use harsh techniques to elicit information from terrorists who might reveal information regarding impending future terrorist attacks.

Holder announced that he has decided to "establish a preliminary review after conducting a thorough examination of past reviews of interrogations, including an internal Central Intelligence Agency investigation completed in 2004 by the CIA's inspector general and separate reviews by Justice Department internal affairs watchdogs and prosecutors." That's Holderspeak for pursuing the banana republic agenda of finding ways to prosecute political opponents.

Despite his boss's denials over the past few months that his administration would pursue investigations and prosecution against former administration officials and operatives for their actions on and near the battlefields, Holder has decided to do it anyway. President Obama as recently as last week stated that he "wanted to avoid a polarizing backward-looking fight over issues far removed from my top priorities." The Chicago Tribune says "Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday opened a preliminary investigation into whether some CIA operatives broke the law in their coercive interrogations of suspected terrorists in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks--presenting President Barack Obama with the prospect of a long, distracting battle over policies and actions carried out under his predecessor."

When confronted with questions from the press, Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "Ultimately, determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the attorney general." And if you believe that, I have a big orange bridge here in San Francisco I'm willing to sell cheap. The attorney general works for the President. They are political allies. They share the same political philosophy. And Holder doesn't make a move that he doesn't first clear with his boss. While the Democrats will try to paint this as the sterling independence of an ethical attorney general, the chances that Obama did not pre-approve this move are somewhere between zero and none.

Make no mistake. This is pure retaliatory politics. The issue of what comprises torture, enhanced interrogation, ordinary interrogation, and asking nicely will remain a philosophical argument that will never be entirely resolved. And it's not the issue in any event. The possibility that Holder will find that anybody at any level committed any unlawful act based on the existing law at the time of the interrogations is infinitesimal. Those few who did were investigated, prosecuted and convicted, and it was under the Bush administration.

Holder is willing to make public announcements and reproduce documents for public view which are likely to endanger national security for years to come for the sole purpose of attacking political enemies. Of course, Holder has attempted to deflect this criticism by saying that he is merely reviewing the evidence collected by the office of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey who was looking into the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. And what is the horrendous violation of all human decency that Holder and his chief investigator, John Durham are hanging their hats on? Waterboarding.

Considering that there was nothing illegal about waterboarding and a few other nasty interrogation techniques, there is no way to view this announcement except as political punishment of political opponents. This is not something a mature republic does. Only dictatorships and autocracies with one-party governments posing as republics prosecute and persecute their opposition in order to maintain power.

The Democrats have a long history of creating phony political crimes and pursuing them until they finally trap a member of the opposition into doing something that appears to be unlawful. The Valerie Plame case is the most recent example. By the time the unrelenting attacks had succeeded, Scooter Libby was convicted of lying about a matter that had no substance in the first place. Nobody was ever tried or convicted for the alleged "crime." And why not? Because there was no crime to be guilty of. But if you make a mistake in thousands of pages of evidence and testimony about a non-crime, the banana democrats can yell "perjury" and it's off to jail.

Even the liberal MSM, while not criticizing Holder for the vicious underlying reasons for this inquisition, still fretted that this action could hinder Obama's push for his domestic agenda by exacerbating the partisan divide in Washington. And divide it will. Once again, the "bipartisan" Obamacrats have handed the Republicans an issue to rally around. As the McClatchy news organization says: "The probe could complicate Obama's broader political agenda in an already rancorous political atmosphere. Anger among Republicans could make it even harder for Obama to count on broad coalitions to enact his agenda,from health care to climate change and immigration. Even the AP said: "The CIA issue is another headache for an administration struggling to juggle two wars, a painful recession and a crowded agenda bogged down in Congress."

Refusing to take this latest dirty political ploy lying down, Republicans and conservatives predicted that Holder's decision would hurt US national security. The Hill said that Republican Senator Kit Bond lost no time in attacking back. Bond said: "The attorney general and the President are launching a witch-hunt targeting the terror-fighters who have kept us safe since 9-11." And Charles Krauthammer got to the real heart of the matter by saying: "These investigators are going to say, 'I was just obeying orders.' You are going to go to the White House and end up where they want to end up, with [Dick] Cheney, who is the great white whale of this investigation." Krauthammer failed to note what happened to Captain Ahab, the pursuer of that whale.

NBC, in no small hurry to bolster the administration's nefarious investigation, breathlessly announced that Holder had discovered further horrific interrogation techniques used by the former operatives of the Republican administration, including "threats against prisoners' families, sexual humiliation, mock executions, a litany of abuses by CIA interrogators at secret prisons overseas." Oh--the humanity! How could our government ever commit such horrific acts? The International Terrorists Civil Liberties Union (aka the ACLU) obtained this ungodly information from from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit it had filed in 2003. Of course the ACLU had only the interests of Americans and liberty at heart when it filed a lawsuit to obtain information about overseas operations conducting investigations of foreign terrorists on and near foreign battlefields during a shooting war. Once again, the liberals and their leftist allies want to conduct an asymmetrical war against non-traditional enemies by acting as if it's just a local criminal matter.

Once again, the AP reports "despite the announcement of the criminal probe, several Obama spokesmen declared anew--as the president has repeatedly--that on the subject of detainee interrogation he 'wants to look forward, not back' at Bush tactics. They took pains to say decisions on any prosecutions would be up to Holder, not the White House." Well, I've never been the President of the United States, but I've run a few large companies, and if one of my executives went off on a tangent of his own without my express permission and in contradiction of my stated policy, I'd have booted his butt out the door.

It doesn't help Obama's and Holder's cause that some of his loyal sycophants in the media are slipping up and reporting things favorable to the Bush administration's position. CBS Evening News reported that "the once-secret documents do support the claims by Cheney (remember, he's the true target) that harsh interrogations at times did work. Interviews with prisoners helped the US capture other terror suspects, thwart potential attacks, including Al Qaeda plots to attack the US consulate in Karachi and fly an airplane into California's tallest building." The Washington Post goes even farther by saying "the report found that 'there is no doubt' that the detention and interrogation program itself prevented further terrorist activity, provided information that led to the apprehension of other terrorists, warned authorities of future plots, and helped analysts complete an intelligence picture for senior policymakers and military leaders." ABC World News reported that the documents Holder is reviewing "include information that backs up the Bush White House contention that the detainee program helped to avert further Al Qaeda attacks on the US, including one to derail a passenger train somewhere in the country."

The New York Times even got into the act. "The report found that the CIA program obtained critical information to identify terrorists and stop potential plots and said some imprisoned terrorists provided more information after being exposed to 'brutal' treatment." But it still felt compelled to conclude that "it raised broad questions about the legality, political acceptability and effectiveness of the harshest of the CIA's methods." Someone needs to tell the staff of the New York Times that fighting a war against merciless terrorists includes performing acts that are like making sausage--the result is great, but you don't really want to see it being made.

And while this is going on, the CIA is scrambling to deny rumors that Director Leon Panetta has threatened to resign over the Holder investigation. It did however, admit that Panetta has declared that he will "stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given." The denial included a statement that it was untrue that Panetta engaged in a "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House when he learned of the Justice Department's plans. I find the denial to be unusually specific about what Panetta supposedly didn't do.

The Obama administration has further plans to damage the CIAs ability to obtain information using traditional means overseas. Detainees under Obama's new "criminal investigation model" will be handled by another layer of inept bureaucracy. No longer will CIA operatives interrogate the terrorists quickly, decisively and on the spot. Now detainees will be entertained by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group which will be housed within the FBI. You know, the organization that denied the existence of the Mafia for nearly twenty years.

In a related story, CNSNews reports that "officers of the Central Intelligence Agency involved in a terrorist interrogation program that had been reviewed by the [Bush] Justice Department, authorized by agency superiors, approved by top administration officials and repeatedly briefed to leaders of the intelligence committees in the House and Senate nonetheless feared that the US government would not 'stand behind them' if they were later targeted for legal action because of the tough techniques used in the program." This came from the office of the CIA Inspector General. CIA officers harbored these fears even though the agency had carefully laid out its procedures for enhanced interrogation with the Justice Department and received approval from administration officials and repeatedly informed leaders of the congressional intelligence committees about what they were doing.

Grand Inquisitor Holder has not let the CIA officials down. He is now proceeding to prove that their worst fears were justified and prescient. He will conduct an investigation, interrogation and inquisition into the actions of those whose sole duty was to protect American citizens at home and soldiers abroad from further terrorist attacks. He will investigate knowing the success of the program. He will question, knowing that each of the operatives had good faith and justified reasons for believing they were acting under legal executive and congressional authority. He will interrogate to see if anyone was mean or nasty to innocent detainees. He will inquire into the views of the operatives and their bosses to ferret out patriotic heresy and denial of the only True Faith--Liberalism.


StanH said...

Great article Lawhawk! Once again our Savior is mirroring the Carter Administration, The Church Commission. Barry’s minions believe that this will rally his base, about 18% that are true barking leftist moonbats, to come to their master’s defense. Picking a fight with Dick Cheney is unwise beyond belief, that man paddled Barry early on, and will take Barry back to the woodshed. This action by Holder/Obama is another indicator of how badly things are going in Barry’s Whitehouse …boo-hoo. The bloom is definitely off the rose.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, As you know, I disagree with you on this issue. I have no problems with genuine probes of the actions of anyone in government (current or former). In fact, I want to see that because I don't like the idea of my government doing what it is not allowed to do.

Will this turn out to be a genuine probe or a witch-hunt, that I don't know yet. If it turns into a witch-hunt, then I hope that the CIA and DOJ career people expose and savage the political people, and that the Republicans in Congress use this issue to tear Obama apart. I also think that Obama better be careful that he doesn't establish a precedent that lets the next president conduct a similar witch-hunt against him.

That said, until I see that this is indeed a witch-hunt, I will withhold judgment because, as I noted, I have no objection genuine probes to determine wrongdoing.

LL said...

This is the problem, Andrew-

DOJ established guidelines for aggressive interrogations (and what CIA did falls short of what I would call "torture" but that's semantics).

CIA case officers followed the guidelines they were provided. Holder knows that because everything was witnessed, multi-sourced and video taped.

It's a witch hunt.

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I'm not saying that it probably won't be a witch-hunt, I fear that it will be. And if it is, then I think the intelligence community and the Republicans (and any honest Democrats) need to come down hard on Holder/Obama.

But I'm not opposed to a review of the actions of government officers to make sure that they did comply and to make sure that the law is adequate. That's my distinction.

I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt at this point, though I am suspicious.

Writer X said...

I believe that this is being done only to satisfy the fringe. It will backfire, however, and only bring more dissatisfaction with the Obama administration. To say that this is Holder's decision is laughable, but at least Holder knows that if it does backfire that Pres. Obama will point the finger at him. It reminds me of when the president said Joe Biden was in charge of ensuring a lack of wasteful spending with the Stimulus Bill. It's always good to have a scapegoat! Clever.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - I actually agree with you, Andrew. Let them investigate, but we also need to hold Holder's feet to the fire to make sure there is a thorough investigation as Cheney has requested. So far all I have seen is what puts Bush & Co in the worst possible light. Fortunately, the MSM might be coming out of their koolaid-induced stupor and have begun doing their job.

However, I predict that the results will coincide with the 2010 or 2012 election cycle for maximum effect if they spin it against Bush. It will disappear entirely if Holder finds they cannot spin to their advantage.

Okay, this keeps rolling around in my brain Please forgive me - History of the World Part I -

Unknown said...

StanH: It's another example of the most lawless administration in memory attempting to draw attention away from itself.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I don't see what it is that you disagree with me on. I never suggested that the government shouldn't probe wrongdoing. But this has all been vetted multiple times before. The law, good sense, and the Constitution doesn't require that you keep going until you finally find some mid-level functionary with a personal agenda to dig up information on low-level alleged crime.

There is nothing in these reports that hasn't been hashed over multiple times before. If Holder wants to assign some back-bench attorney to investigate individual violations of the rules that were in place at the time, approved by the Congressional Committees and watchdogged by the Inspector General, fine.

The Founders built a prohibition on ex post facto laws and bills of attainder into the Constitution for good reason. It was in part to keep overzealous political prosecutors from turning legal acts into illegal acts after the fact. Holder isn't looking for criminals or crimes. He's looking for political enemies to humiliate publicly. This is about as genuine as the Plame investigation, and is designed to produce the same result. Trap a political enemy into making some kind of foolish move, then find some obscure statue to make it look like the official they're crucifying was worse than any member of the Manson Family.

And as for Obama and Holder establishing a precedent which could come back to bite them, that is a major part of why I oppose this idiotic fishing expedition. I don't want any government, Democrat or Republican deliberately using its Department of Justice to pursue political enemies while ignoring the serious business of protecting the American people.

Like you, I have no objection to genuine probes to determine wrongdoing. This is a bogus probe, and it's objectionable as hell.

Unknown said...

WriterX: I agree that this will blow up in their faces. It was done to gain political advantage, and it's likely to do the exact opposite. Yet that is my exact point. It's political. That isn't what Deparments of Justice in mature republics do. Any possible violations of the law in place at the time were probably already investigated and prosecuted, and those that weren't can and should be handled by ordinary attorneys in the criminal investigation division. It doesn't require the direct and very public intervention of a highly-politicized Attorney General to investigate individual alleged criminal acts. In other words, it doesn't require a Grand Inquisition.

Unknown said...

LL: Obviously, I agree that this is a witch hunt. I pay my taxes in part to have a Justice Department that pursues genuine crimes, not policies of a previous administration with which the current administration disagrees.

I don't pay my taxes for the government to conduct witch-hunts so I can feel relieved after they've spent millions of dollars of the taxpayers money to prove I'm right.

We mustn't get comfortable with the idea that some CIA operatives might not be found to have exceeded their authority. But that is not the purpose of this witch-hunt. It's to trap some high-level official from the other party into doing something that Holder can call an attempt to subvert the Constitution and pervert common decency.

It's political. It's reprehensible. And it's a monumental waste of taxpayers' money and DOJ resources.

Unknown said...

Bev: It is true that if Holder finds nothing of any genuine legal note, he will quietly drop the issue around election time. But that is a major part of my objection to the whole thing. Once again, we will have diminished the vital role of the Deparment of Justice by having it waste valuable time investigating political crimes. If this were merely about a few CIA or other operatives exceeding the guidelines for enhanced interrogation, it wouldn't rate an inch of public notice. But it isn't about crime. It's about playing "gotcha" with political enemies. That seriously damages the underlying purpose of Constitutional government by the rule of law. And I don't care which party does it--it's wrong, and it's bush league.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Bev, I agree with you entirely.

Lawhawk, I don't see yet that it's a bogus investigation. I agree that there are indications it might be, but I will withhold judgment until I see what they are doing.

I think it is important to raise the point as a warning, and certainly to watch closely. But I will wait to see what they do before deciding.

And if this is a witch-hunt and the whole thing is bogus, then I think they need to be held accountable in a very public way. But if it's not a witch-hunt, then I have no problems with the investigation.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I have read the Attorney General's statement. I have read the Inspector General's report. And I've read as many of the redacted reports as I have been able to read so far. I've seen the Congressional testimony. Taking all of that together, what exactly is it that Holder is investigating that is not purely political or unworthy of more than a simple low-level criminal prosecution?

I certainly subscribe to the concept that the top officers in the Justice Department must investigate major wrongdoing. So we don't disagree on that. How does this fit into that concept? Based on Holder's own words, the first questions is "what is he actually investigating--specifically?" The second question is, "if what he is investigating is actually legitimate, is it so important that it requires the personal intervention of the Attorney General himself in a highly-public manner?"

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I have rarely heard a DOJ investigation begin with a public statement that thoroughly outlines every issue that will be investigated. In fact, my understanding is that such statements are avoided to avoid the appearance of prejudicing the investigation.

Also, investigations that touch on political policy will never be handled as low level criminal matters. They always assign some big DOJ name to run the case, and they tend to let them run it independently (or seemingly independently) so as to avoid the appearance of playing politics.

As I said, I think people are rightly concerned, but I will wait to see how this gets handled.

Unknown said...

Andrew: OK. What's the major political/policy issue? I'm fully aware that the details of an upcoming investigation are ordinarily not discussed in the public statement in order to avoid tainting the investigation. But I'd be surprised to find out that such reasonable restraint would ever stop Holder and his team from telling all, if he actually had anything.

He isn't investigating the rightness or wrongness of former administration policy. That's settled. What the Bush administration proposed, the Inspector General monitored, and the Congressional Committees approved is different from what the Obamacrats have determined is "right." So what? How does that require an investigation of past acts, which were consistent with past policy but not with current policy?

I don't want or need details. I just want the answer to one simple question: "What is the Attorney General of the United States investigating?" If he cannot articulate at least a simple general theory of what he is investigating, and how he is justified in doing so, it's a witch-hunt. I'm not concerned with how the matter is handled. I'm concerned with what they are handling, and why.

AndrewPrice said...


Here's what Holder said (from the LA Times):

"As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," Holder said in a statement. "The department regularly uses preliminary reviews to gather information to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a full investigation of a matter. I want to emphasize that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow."

I think that explains what he's looking into and the scope. Also, the guy he picked to run the investigation apparently is already investigating the CIA. He was appointed by Bush's people to begin that investigation.

Unknown said...

Andrew: All of that information is contained in my original article. I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

What he says is he is investigating "interrogation of specfic detainees." That would not be an appropriate subject for the high office of the Attorney General. If he is investigating possible illegal orders given by administration officials, he should say so.

That is what he is fishing for, and it's inappropriate for a public announcement. If a low-level investigator should succeed in eliciting some proof that the allegedly illegal interrogation conducted by an overseas operative was authorized by a higher authority, that would be the appropriate time to be making a public announcement. I truly don't think that he is planning on personally going to Joe Smith, operative in Afghanistan, to ask "did you receive orders from Dick Cheney to violate the protocols approved by the Inspector General and the Congressional Committees?"

That's just what he's hoping he'll find. Had he left out the word "specific" I would be annoyed, but I might have to accept his contentions grudgingly. He says nothing about investigating the operatives themselves, but rather investigating the detainees, who have largely been given the Al Qaeda handbook on how to depict a routine interrogation as inhumane torture. I guarantee you he will find plenty of that kind of testimony, and we're off to the races.

MegaTroll said...

Lawhawk, Another great article. I don't trust a word Holder says. I don't see how he has any credibility left after he excused the Black Panthers. Also, wasn't one of the knocks on him when he got appointed that he wrote a memo approving torture? I seem to remember something about that, but I could be mistaken.

Unknown said...

MegaTroll: You're right about Holder. He's a sanctimonious phony. When it was convenient, he supported enhanced interrogation, which of course he is now re-defining. But I have no problem with people who have consistently advocated the end of enhanced interrogation (I don't agree, but I consider it a respectable position). But Holder hasn't even been consistent. He's just another Obama political hack, and a dangerous one, given his position.

The Black Panthers dismissal is exactly why I despise the man. Professional, career attorneys got judgments and defaults on several of the defendants, and he wouldn't even support that. He called us "cowards" for not openly discussing race, and then in the wake of the Gates travesty, he called us "racists" for doing exactly that. He seems to have plenty of time to prepare show trials, but none to do the job he is charged with doing. He is beneath contempt.

Unknown said...

Everybody might be interested in this open letter from former CIA executive Herbert Meyer in "The American Thinker": On Holder's Prosecution of CIA Interrogators

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