[Guest post by DRJ]
Department of Justice officials have recommended prosecuting “Central Intelligence Agency employees or contractors for harsh interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan that went beyond approved limits.” The decision is at odds with President Obama’s frequently stated position that he did not want to second-guess Bush Administration decisions:
“Obama has repeatedly said he wants to move forward rather than dwell on Bush administration actions after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. But the White House said the decision was up to Holder.
“The president thinks that Eric Holder, who he appointed as a very independent attorney general, should make those decisions,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. where Obama was on a weeklong vacation.
Republicans will likely accuse Obama of being soft on national security while some liberal backers will be upset if the probe is limited to those who conducted interrogations while excluding the officials who approved the policies.”
Classic Obama … “leading” from the rear. Unfortunately, as a result, some CIA employees will be the victims of costly, potentially politically-motivated prosecutions.
The Obama Administration also announced the formation of a special interrogation unit for high value detainees to be supervised by the White House. The Obama Adminitration apparently views this as an acceptable policy because President Obama, unlike his predecessor, can be trusted to make good decisions.
In fact, apparently Obama is so trustworthy and wise that it’s now appropriate to remove a layer of review and completely politicize the interrogation issue. The prior program, in effect since early 2002, was under the supervision of the CIA Director or senior personnel. Moving oversight into the White House not only makes this an even greater political hot potato, it also undermines the authority of the CIA Director. No wonder CIA Director Leon Panetta had a screaming fit last month at the White House.
A frequent topic of discussion is how to get good people to go into politics but I’m far more worried about getting good people into mid-level foreign and domestic policy areas — especially in the State Department, the CIA, and the military. Politically-motivated prosecutions won’t help recruitment or retention.
UPDATE - From Jim Geraghty’s Campaign Spot at National Review:
Eric Holder, back in January:
“Eric H. Holder Jr.’s confirmation as attorney general is speeding toward approval thanks in part to his private assurances to a key Republican senator that he does not intend to prosecute intelligence agency interrogators for their actions during the prior administration.”
Now we know what Eric Holder’s “private assurances” are worth.