TPM News

The long awaited 2004 CIA IG report on torture -- which according to Eric Holder helped prompt him to appoint a special prosecutor -- has now been released.

The Justice Department didn't put out an online version, but the Washington Independent has posted the first half, plans to follow up with the second.

Preliminary reports suggest that the report says interrogators threatened to kill Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's children if other attacks occurred in the U.S.

Late Update: The Indy now has the whole thing up.

Eric Holder has now officially announced his decision to appoint a prosecutor to investigate torture. Depsite what was reported earlier, his statement doesn't appear to rule out looking at the DOJ lawyers who approved the policy

Here's the statement:

The Office of Professional Responsibility has now submitted to me its report regarding the Office of Legal Counsel memoranda related to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. I hope to be able to make as much of that report available as possible after it undergoes a declassification review and other steps. Among other findings, the report recommends that the Department reexamine previous decisions to decline prosecution in several cases related to the interrogation of certain detainees.

I have reviewed the OPR report in depth. Moreover, I have closely examined the full, still-classified version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General's report, as well as other relevant information available to the Department. 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. 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.

Assistant United States Attorney John Durham was appointed in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. During the course of that investigation, Mr. Durham has gained great familiarity with much of the information that is relevant to the matter at hand. Accordingly, I have decided to expand his mandate to encompass this related review. Mr. Durham, who is a career prosecutor with the Department of Justice and who has assembled a strong investigative team of experienced professionals, will recommend to me whether there is sufficient predication for a full investigation into whether the law was violated in connection with the interrogation of certain detainees.

There are those who will use my decision to open a preliminary review as a means of broadly criticizing the work of our nation's intelligence community. I could not disagree more with that view. The men and women in our intelligence community perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. Further, they need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

I share the President's conviction that as a nation, we must, to the extent possible, look forward and not backward when it comes to issues such as these. While this Department will follow its obligation to take this preliminary step to examine possible violations of law, we will not allow our important work of keeping the American people safe to be sidetracked.

I fully realize that my decision to commence this preliminary review will be controversial. As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law. In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.

The news that Eric Holder will appoint a prosecutor to probe Bush-era abuses hasn't satisfied some torture foes.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has issued a statement blasting the AG for apparently limiting the scope of the probe to CIA personnel who exceeded DOJ guidelines -- rather than including the DOJ lawyers who issued those guidelines, which themselves went far beyond what the law appears to allow.

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Blue Dog Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) is now in a public feud with Daily Kos publisher Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, after Kos commissioned a Research 2000 poll that ended up showing Cooper's Democratic constituents disapproving of his actions on health care -- and the Republicans approving of him in this area.

Said Kos: "There is certainly an opening for a strong primary challenge. Cooper isn't the lock many (including him) believe him to be. And why are the natives restless? His long record of obstructing health care reform surely ranks among the reasons. The public option polls strongly in Cooper's district, yet he doesn't seem to care"

Cooper fired back in a statement, attacking the reliability and fundamental accuracy of the poll -- saying that Kos is wrong to even accuse him of opposing a public option. And while he's at it, there's stuff Cooper likes in the poll, too.

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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.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is telling Senate Democrats that they should prepare to pass health care reform alone by portraying Republicans as unwilling to vote for any health care bill, sources tell Greg Sargent.

"He is urging colleagues to emphasize the GOP's role in spreading false myths -- like death panels and illegal immigrants being covered -- and to emphasize GOP statements like [Sen. John] Kyl saying he wants ZERO votes for health care," a senior Senate aide emailed Sargent.

Schumer attacked Kyl on Meet the Press yesterday for saying that almost no bill would get Republican support.

A belated point coming out of last week's news...

Last month, when Leon Panetta provoked congressional outrage by revealing the existence of a secret CIA program to kill top al Qaeda leaders, we had the feeling that there was more to the story than we'd so far learned. After all, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration had openly and uncontroversially targeting Bin Laden and his top deputies.

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So RNC chairman Michael Steele took to the pages of the Washington Post to warn seniors, "we need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of 'health-insurance reform.'" A convenient refrain for the current political climate, but, in bad news for Michael Steele, a complete departure from GOP business as usual. Here, for instance, is an October, 2006 exchange on cutting Medicare between Tim Russert and--wait for it--Michael Steele.

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On a conference call with reporters just now, former U.S. Attorney and New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie sought to open a new line of attack against Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's ethics, hammering the incumbent as a Wall St. trader who has sold out the state -- and was then answered by a steady stream of reporters asking him about his own ethics.

Christie attacked Corzine by tying him to the Enron scandal, citing Wall Street Journal articles from 2002. Corzine, as CEO of Goldman Sachs in the late 1990s, signed a letter to the Clinton administration opposing efforts to crack down on financial instruments known as Monthly Income Preferred Securities, which effectively helped Enron to disguise debt as equity.

Christie likened Corzine's nefarious Wall St. dealings to his conduct as governor -- for example, Christie said the incumbent recently sold out the state's interests in a last-minute deal with the Communications Workers of America union, in the run-up to holding a rally with Vice President Biden. "Because all of this is a pattern, it's a pattern of conduct by Jon Corzine that shows what he is," said Christie. "He's a trader, and traders are only worried about getting the trade in front of them done so they can get that benefit in their pocket."

The question and answer session, however, did not focus on Corzine's record on Wall St. Instead, reporters went after Christie with questions about the recently-revealed $46,000 mortgage loan he'd made to a subordinate in the U.S. Attorney's office, Michele Brown, which he'd failed to report on his financial disclosure forms or on his taxes.

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About 50,000 insurance company employees have made phone calls, written letters or attended health care town halls, according to America's Health Insurance Plans, the major insurance industry association.

AHIP, which opposes the public option, sent a memo to employees earlier this month with a list of "town hall tips." The memo stresses that the employees stay calm and courteous, addressing members of Congress as "Congressman" or "Senator," and saying thank you.

The town halls are an opportunity "to strongly push back against charges that we have very high profits," Karen Ignagni, AHIP's president and chief executive officer, told the Wall Street Journal. "It's very important that our men and women...calmly provide the facts and for members of Congress to hear what these people do every day."

AHIP insists it supports some measure of health care reform, and has resisted being demonized by reform supporters, including Congressional Democrats.

A spokesman balked last week after Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) sent letters to the heads of 52 insurance company, asking for detailed information about executive pay, retreats and profits. The spokesman called the letter a "politically motivated fishing expedition."