FREDO FEELS SECURE…. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales knows soon-to-be-A.G. Eric Holder considers waterboarding torture, and that torture is illegal, and that Gonzales signed off on torture during his tenure.

But is he worried about being prosecuted? Not so much.

On the question of prosecuting officers who employed any of the “extreme tactics” that the Bush administration has acknowledged, without admitting to any “torture” of detainees: “I don’t think that there’s going to be a prosecution, quite frankly.” Gonzales said. “Because again, these activities…. They were authorized, they were supported by legal opinions at the Department of Justice.”

When Holder is confirmed — with a vote expected Wednesday — he “will have to make a decision as to whether or not move forward with an investigation or a prosecution,” Gonzales said. “But under those circumstances, I find it hard to believe…

Gonzales added that he believes Holder should not have made “a blanket pronouncement” that torture is torture, because it might undermine “morale” among some intelligence officials and lawyers. (The full context of Holder’s answer was: “If you look at the history of the use of that technique, used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the Inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes. We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.” Gonzales considers this a “blanket pronouncement” to be avoided.)

Gonzales added that he finds the very discussion “extremely discouraging,” because intelligence officials who may be engaging in “controversial” interrogation techniques are now worried they might be investigated.


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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.