The Washington Post is reporting that Eric Holder has decided to name a special prosecutor to probe — though only up to a point — instances of torture under the Bush administration.
According to the paper’s sources, Holder will name John Durham, a career prosecutor with a reputation for independence and impartiality, who led the investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes. Read more about Durham here.It looks like the probe will be somewhat limited in scope. The Post says that “fewer than a dozen cases will be examined, most from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Perhaps more important, it adds:
Durham’s mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more.
And further down it adds:
With Monday’s looming public announcement, however, the attorney general and his national security team appear to be staking out a middle ground — rejecting a broad inquiry that could result in possible prosecutions of Justice Department lawyers in the Bush years as well as cabinet officers who developed counterterrorism policy; but giving civil liberties advocates at least part of what they wanted without supporting a full, independent truth commission to examine a host of Bush national security practices.
That approach, which previous reports had hinted at, would leave out the DOJ lawyers like John Yoo and Jay Bybee who approved the harsh techniques in the first place, as well as top Bush administration officials like Dick Cheney who set the policy. And since both Holder and President Obama have said they don’t believe that CIA personnel who stayed within what was approved by DOJ lawyers should be prosecuted, that would seem to leave only those CIA officers who exceeded the DOJ guidelines.