Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, the chief
Senate critic of executive excess and wrongdoing during both
Republican and Democratic administrations, wants Attorney General
Eric Holder to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the CIA's harsh
But Feingold wants Holder to do it right.
The chair of the Constitution Subcommittee of
the Senate Judiciary Committee is concerned that the appointment of
a prosecutor by Holder, which
now seems increasingly likely, come with a charge by the
attorney general "to focus on holding accountable the architects of
the CIA's interrogation program."
In a letter to Holder, Feingold, who also
sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote:
"Dear Attorney General Holder:
"Recent news stories indicate that you have
reviewed the highly classified 2004 CIA Inspector General report on
the CIA's interrogation program, and that as a result you are
considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate individuals who
may have gone beyond the legal authorization for that program
provided by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of
Justice. I write to encourage you to do so, but also to urge you to
focus on holding accountable the architects of the CIA's
interrogation program. While allegations that individuals may have
even gone beyond what was justified by those now-public OLC memos
are extremely disturbing, we should not lose sight of the fact that
the program itself -- as authorized -- was illegal, not to mention
immoral and unwise.
"As I said in a letter to President Obama in
April, the OLC documents make clear that the details of this
program were authorized at the highest levels of government, which
is where the need for accountability is most acute. Those who
developed, authorized and provided legal justification for the
interrogations should be held responsible.
"I understand this is a difficult decision
for you, and I want to assure you that you will have my full
support if you take this important step in furtherance of the rule
This is an essential message, and an
essential step in the process.
Official Washington does not like
Holder will be under pressure to organize a
narrow inquiry that focuses on the misdeeds of underlings.
But this investigation needs to go where the
real wrongdoing took place.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a
principal proponent of harsh interrogation during the Bush/Cheney
years and has since emerged as the
primary defender of the initiative.
When asked about the use of torture tactics
late last year, Cheney told "ABC News," "I was aware of the
program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process
cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what
they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as
others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."
That is an invitation -- from Cheney himself
-- to, as Feingold suggests, investigate the extent to which
illegal activity was "authorized at the highest levels of
government" and to "(hold) accountable the architects of the CIA's
Americans should tell the attorney general to
accept this invitation, and the Credo Action Project of the
progressive long-distance phone service, Working Assets, is
offering them an opportunity to do just that with a new campaign
to tell Eric Holder to start his torture investigation with
Check it out.
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