Posted by | August 24, 2009 15:24 | Filed under: Top Stories

Eric Holder is about to name John Durham (right), a Connecticut Justice Department prosecutor, to look approximately a dozen cases where anti-torture laws may have been violated.

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.


Durham has already been investigating whether laws were broken in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA videotapes.

The tapes allegedly depicted brutal scenes including waterboarding of some of the agency’s high value detainees. That inquiry is proceeding before a grand jury in Alexandria, although lawyers following the investigation have cast doubt on whether it will result in any criminal charges.


By investigating contractors and CIA personnel, Holder is avoiding a larger inquiry into whether BushCo lawyers and cabinet members are culpable for setting policies that led to mistreatment of detainees.  However,  the attorney general is not kowtowing to Republicans who want Justice to do nothing about allegations of abuse.

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.


So far, approximately 20 allegations of prisoner abuse during the Bush years has resulted in just one grand jury indictment and conviction.


A federal appeals court earlier this month affirmed the assault conviction of David A. Passaro, a CIA contractor who wielded a metal flashlight against a detainee at a military base in Afghanistan. Passaro was not charged with murder. Abdul Wali, the detainee he questioned, died shortly after the beating but investigators could not conclusively link his death to the flashlight attack.

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By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.