Holder: "No One Is Above The Law"


Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that he would "follow the law" as he weighed potential prosecutions of Bush administration officials who authorized controversial harsh interrogation techniques. . . "We are going to follow the evidence, follow the law and take that where it leads. No one is above the law," Holder said at an Earth Day event.

Of course, this is already proven untrue, as President Obama has stated CIA interrogators will not be investigated, much less prosecuted. We'll see what it really means in due course.

Speaking for me only

< Harman Incident: Personalities Over Policy | Contradicting Obama's DNI, FBI Interrogator Says Torture Was Ineffective >
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    If they don't actually intend to do anything (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:11:35 AM EST
    why do they keep blowing smoke?

    indeed (none / 0) (#3)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:17:15 AM EST
    Holder is putting himself in a position now where if he doesn't find fault in what Bushco did, he will be endorsing it (the Blair position).  An uncomfortable fit.

    The FBI say's they are so (none / 0) (#9)
    by SOS on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:46:06 AM EST
    overwhelmed it may as well be referred to as the great corruption landslide of 2008. Kind of like the Great Garbage Landslide in the movie Idiocracy.

    It may be a bit of rope-a-dope (none / 0) (#22)
    by msaroff on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:45:00 PM EST
    If it turns out that most of the torture was done by contractors, as opposed to CIA agents.

    He only made a statement to not prosecute the agents.


    Good question (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:49:49 PM EST
    I'm on the side of accountability being sought.  I realize that the current tide is against us but with each statement made like this one, it looks better and better for us. How many fibs can you tell me offering me what I want before you have to be held accountable too?

    Okay, I know it's the WaPo, but (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 02:46:13 PM EST
    I read this at Think Progress this morning (emphasis appeared in the original):

    Yesterday, President Obama said he would support a "bipartisan" congressional commission examining the Bush administration's torture program. The Washington Post's Dan Balz reports that this development followed weeks of "vigorous" debate inside the White House. Obama reportedly rejected a 9/11-style national commission because he thought it would "ratchet the whole thing up":

    There was, according to a senior official, considerable support among Obama's advisers for the creation of a 9-11 Commission-style investigation as an alternative to releasing the Justice Department memos. But Obama quashed it. "His concern was that would ratchet the whole thing up," the official said. "His whole thing is, I banned all this. This chapter is over. What we don't need now is to become a sort of feeding frenzy where we go back and re-litigate all this."

    According to Balz, Obama was "reluctant to give a presidential imprimatur to a national commission that would keep the controversy alive for months and months and months." Instead, Obama chose to release the OLC torture memos. Multiple members of Congress have signaled they will try to move forward on a commission.

    And had to ask myself, what does Obama mean by "re"-litigating all of this?  Has it been litigated?  Did I miss that somehow?  

    I really, really wish I could get past the impression I have of Obama taking an I-have-spoken attitude, and being truly bewildered that his pronouncement and exhortation to move forward and reflect was not greeted with total agreement and submission.  I don't know if that's arrogance or ego, but it just feels like he will do anything to avoid getting his pretty presidency dirty or wrinkled.  

    I do not understand how he can think that it's over - I truly do not get it.  He appears to have really thought that banning torture and releasing the memos would be the end of it.

    It makes me think, too, that the media framing on this, which is increasingly about the politics of torture (I mean, what does that even mean?), is the WH's message and one Obama hopes will quickly kill any effort to take this to the next level.

    Perhaps the President (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by kmblue on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 03:09:44 PM EST
    agrees with the memos?  Is that what he means by litigation?  I too am bewildered, Anne, and I'm disgusted by the "let's put this out and see if it flies" attitude from the WH.

    Greenwald repeatedly states (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:15:22 AM EST
    the U.S. is obligated by U.N. and international law to prosecute,  But, to my knowledge, prosecutor has discretion whether to prosecute or not prosecute.  Which is what Holder seems to be saying.

    Ah....now I see it in a new light (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 06:01:47 AM EST
    presidents do (none / 0) (#4)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:18:52 AM EST
    go to jail sometimes.

    Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for ordering killings and kidnappings by security forces.

    I am not holding my breath.  but it does happen.

    What it really means (none / 0) (#5)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:22:35 AM EST

    It means if there are any prosecutions at all it will be against Republicans that are out of office and that never laid a hand on anyone.  More or less the third world model of criminalizing the other party.

    Uh, wasn't it Repubs who wrote these egregious (none / 0) (#30)
    by jawbone on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 07:26:54 PM EST
    torture memos? At the behest of their bosses, the highest officials in government, all Repubs? Repubs who pushed this awful behavior onto our CIA personnel and military?

    Who else would be prosecuted?

    And if we don't do something about this illegality, these same Repubs and others like them will be doing the same things or types of things when they get back in power.

    Sheesh. Our national name is mud...and will stay that way if we do nothing but sweep things under the rug. We would have no moral standing to tell any government to follow law, adhere to international treaties, to not torture, etc.


    Real Torture (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:29:26 AM EST
    How about some videos (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:31:42 AM EST
    of the torture done by the CIA.

    According to the memos, there was no torture. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:59:52 AM EST

    Almost all of methods were standard SERE training techniques that 25,000+ of our own troops have experienced.  Hardly torture.  

    Frankly then these were described as "torture memos" one would think that the real stuff was involved.  

    Snipping off the fingers one joint at a time?  No.  Not even close.

    Electric cattle prod up the poop chute? No.  Not even close.

    Bones broken or joints crushed? No.  Not even close.

    Blow torch to the skin? No.  Not even close.

    Eye gouged out? No.  Not even close.

    Cage around the head with hungry rats? No.  Not even close.

    Cuts filled with salt?  No.  Not even close.

    Finger nails pulled out? No.  Not even close.

    Burning splinters under the nails?  No.  Not even close.

    Beatings? No.  Not even close.

    Private parts doused with lighter fluid and set alight? No.  Not even close.

    Since nothing that was done appears to be the cause of prolonged mental or physical suffering calling it torture may be good politics of the moment.  OTOH, by defining "torture" down to the level of momentary or temporary discomfort, the word loses any real meaning.


    Heh (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:04:00 PM EST
    SERE techniques were for preparing US servicepersons to withstand torture.

    That they were SERE techniques actually proves they are torture, not the reverse.


    If so (1.00 / 0) (#18)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:12:02 PM EST

    That they were SERE techniques actually proves they are torture, not the reverse.

    If thats the case, should the trainers that delivered what you claim is torture be prosecuted?


    Sheesh (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:13:25 PM EST
    The words consent and training seem not to be in your vocabulary.

    So (1.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 01:53:09 PM EST
    So the acts themselves are not torture on their face.  Thanks for clairifying that.  

    Since most of the 25,000+ trainees had jobs or livelyhood that depended on successful completion of the training, whatever consent they gave was not freely given.  Coerced consent is not consent.

    This, as you call, torture continues to this very day in SERE training in the Obama admin.  

    The position that its torture only if the Bushies did it and only to non-governmental employees seems a stretch.  Waterboarding as the CIA does it is either torture or its not.  


    Oh it's cool (none / 0) (#15)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:00:54 PM EST
    if we didn't want to do those things, we just rendered detainees to places that would.

    It's simple (none / 0) (#8)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:44:06 AM EST
    The president IS the law.
    No one is above the president;
    therefore no one is above the law.

    The times, they are a-changin....a big blippy change occurred with Bush II of course, but it's continuing on a positive trajectory now.

    Not a lawyer, but I have been (none / 0) (#10)
    by coast on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:48:32 AM EST
    following the various threads and comments on the torture memos and I can not grasp who would actually be prosecuted based on the facts as we know them.  The Bush administration obtained a request from the CIA to use new interrogation techniques with regards to selected prisoners.  The administration obtained a legal opinion from the OLC that these techniques were legal.  The administration approves the use of the techniques on the selected prisoners based on that opinion.  The CIA begins to use the techniques based on the approval from the administration.  Members of the Senate and House intelligence committees are informed of the use of the techniques (some reports even stating that the members questioned whether the techniques were enough).  So who actually gets prosecuted?  The lawyers for writing a faulty opinion?  The administration for approving the use of the interrogation techniques relying on the legal opinion?  The CIA interrogators who actually administered the techniques?  Would the members of the intelligence committees be accessories for knowing of the use of the techniques and not doing anything about it?

    Just trying to figure who would be subject to prosecution.

    this is pretty easy (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:56:05 AM EST
    Since no one could reasonably believe what was written in the legal memos, they are all culpable.

    That makes sense. Just wasn't sure since (none / 0) (#12)
    by coast on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:59:05 AM EST
    the law doesn't always follow what makes the most sense.

    Please explain (none / 0) (#17)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:08:32 PM EST

    Please explain how techniqies used on 25,000+ SERE trainees can be considered torture.  Further explain why the trainers that used those same techniques on the SERE trainees should not also be prosecuted.  

    There is no reasonable basis for a CIA guy to believe that the training techniques he recieved are torqure.


    Consent, training (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:13:58 PM EST
    Look the words up.

    Thats fine (none / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 01:55:05 PM EST

    Looking up those words is fine.  But where in the law is and exception for either?

    Your fire department sets fires (none / 0) (#29)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:50:00 PM EST
    for training purposes, maybe down the street from you.  The trainees involved consent to the potential danger, so that they will be better firefighters in situations not so controlled.  Is this illegal?

    Similarly, your military subjects trainees to all sorts of conditions, not torture but darn tough.  The soldiers consent to the potential dangers, so that they will be in better shape and better prepared for service in situations not so controlled.  Is this illegal?

    Even so, we all certainly know that sometimes troops in training die.  Sometimes there are charges, if the trainers exceeded reason and humane laws of nature that anyone ought know.  Most often, no one is charged, because it turns out that the trainee had an undetected heart condition or something.

    Same for student athletes.  Etc.  Why is this hard to understand?  Training.  Consent.  Controlled situations -- controlled to an extent by the trainees, too, who sign off on just this but not that.  Do prisoners have all of those rights?  No, and especially not these prisoners, who were determined by our country to not even have the rights for which we signed off with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and more.  And did these tortured prisoners consent and have any control?  No.  Why is this hard to understand?


    Exactly (1.00 / 0) (#31)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:26:29 PM EST
    Similarly, your military subjects trainees to all sorts of conditions, not torture but darn tough.

    Thats the point exactly.  Tough is not torture.  Crushing someone's finger joints one at a time.  is torture.  Period.  

    Making someone stand around naked may be tough, but its no way in the same league as torture.  Momentary discomfort is not torture in any case.


    No, you're twisting it (none / 0) (#33)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 24, 2009 at 02:48:51 PM EST
    because I can tell the difference between tough training and torture.  I suspect that you also can do so but just don't want to do so in this thread.

    Who is twisting? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Apr 26, 2009 at 11:12:43 AM EST

    Calling the same thing done done to two different persons torture for one and merely tough for the other sure looks like twisting.

    You need to go read the (none / 0) (#28)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 03:46:28 PM EST
    SASC Report, pages 3-6, Section B - Department of Defense Office of General Counsel Seeks Information form Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA).

    Discussion there on the differences in SERE training, safeguards, etc.


    Holder must do some prosecutions (none / 0) (#14)
    by Saul on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:00:48 PM EST
    otherwise it will show that Dept of Justice is doing the Presidents bidding.  I think Holder has no choice now for fear of showing no independence that his position must be independent of the executive branch.  He does not want to look like Gonzalez who blatantly was doing everything Bush wanted.

    I think they're going to bring prosecutions as (none / 0) (#21)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 12:15:57 PM EST
    more and mroe facts come to light.  I don't doubt it for minute.  Obama has repositioned himself as has Holder.  The original position did not fly so why engender political opposition to save the likes of Dickhead Cheney?

    As for the actual torurers?  When did they do it, before or after the OLC approved "enhanced interrogation?"  I think it makes a difference.