Post transmits--and undermines--Holder's attempt to cover himself on CIA prosecutions 

 

In a front page story three Washington Post reporters write that Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation of detainee abuse by CIA personnel will focus on “a very small number of cases.” The article doesn’t exactly bury the really startling news, announced on Friday and therefore not previously covered in the print Post, that seven former CIA directors wrote a letter urging President Barack Obama to call off Holder’s investigation. That’s mentioned, briefly, in the second and third paragraphs. And the article mentions as well that the seven directors served under presidents of both parties, but it denies the reader the information that the seven include all living former CIA directors except the nonagenarian Stansfield Turner and former President George H. W. Bush. Turner may be in no position to sign such a letter, while Bush, like living former presidents of both parties except for Jimmy Carter, can be presumed to be adhering to a policy of not criticizing the current incumbent.
 
I suppose you could argue that the Post is advancing the story by reporting that Holder’s investigation is very narrow. But I take this as a leak from Holder attempting to discount the former CIA directors’ letters and to prevent Obama from directing him (as legally he certainly could) to stop the investigation. Of course that puts Holder at risk of antagonizing the left-wing Madame Defarges of our time who want to see prosecutions of career government employees who were doing their duty to protect the nation in line with the orders they received from their superiors and within the legal guidelines set down by competent legal authorities at the time.
 
The article does mention that career federal prosecutors reviewed these cases five years ago and decided not to prosecute (except in one case in which a conviction was obtained). And it does present some information which casts doubt on Holder’s decision. To wit: “Before his decision to reopen the cases, Holder did not read detailed memos that prosecutors drafted and placed in their files to explain their decision to decline prosecutions.” In other words, he didn’t do due diligence before making a decision that seven former CIA directors say will be harmful to national security. So even this CYA attempt by Holder to rebuff the former CIA directors is undermined by material that the Post reporters, to their credit, present to their readers.

 

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Michael Barone

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