Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he will be appointing U.S. attorney John Durham as a special prosecutor to investigate possible crimes committed by CIA interrogators who “went beyond the legal guidelines” for interrogations set out by the Bush administration.
Human Rights Watch responded to the announcement by imploring Holder to go further and investigate those who “planned, authorized, and facilitated the use of abusive methods.” As constitutional attorney and blogger Glenn Greenwald has noted, Holder’s investigation would effectively immunize interrogators who complied with the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) interrogation memos, which authorized brutal torture, and ensure that White House officials who authorized torture “will never be held to account.”
In an appearance today on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) echoed the concerns of these advocates. He told Fox’s Megyn Kelly that Holder should not “limit the investigation” to field interrogators and that he should also investigate the people who gave the orders that resulted in abuse and torture, including former Vice President Cheney:
NADLER: Now, the law says very clearly that it is the obligation of the Attorney General to investigate, to see whether crimes were committed, any time there was torture under American jurisdiction. He must do that. If he didn’t do that, he’d be breaking the law. My criticism of the Attorney General is that he should not limit the investigation to people in the field who may have committed the torture, but to people who may have ordered it, such as the Vice President, for example.
Nadler has been one of the most vociferous critics of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and its record on civil liberties. In the past, he has said that Bush officials “clearly committed war crimes” and that the Obama administration would be “breaking the law” if it did not fully investigate the Bush administration’s complicity in torture. Most recently, he responded to Cheney’s comments opposing a torture probe by saying that his objections show that he “still fails to understand the law.”
In an article for the National Law Journal published yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) suggested that Holder’s probe should extend to Cheney, his counsel David Addington, OLC lawyer John Yoo, and other top administration officials because “it borders on unethical for a prosecutor to refuse to investigate the corpus delicti of a crime because of concern as to where the evidence may lead.”