Leaving the prosecutorial door open

LEAVING THE PROSECUTORIAL DOOR OPEN…. The Obama administration has no intention of prosecuting CIA officials who followed the advice of Bush’s OLC in good faith. But what about everyone else?

Marc Ambinder noted that it’s not quite right to refer to “blanket” immunity. “Senior administration officials have made it clear to me: neither President Obama’s statement nor Attorney General Holder’s words were meant to foreclose the possibility of prosecuting CIA officers who did NOT act in good faith, or who did not act according to the guidelines spelled out by the OLC,” Ambinder reported.

And then, of course, there’s the question of the top Bush administration officials who were giving, and signing off on, the directions on torture in the first place. Alex Koppelman reported late yesterday that Obama’s team has not yet come to any conclusions on this.

The specific line in the president’s statement is, “[I]t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.” Asked about this, and the omission of the people who provided that legal advice, a White House aide would tell Salon only, “in regard to the president’s statement and the line, the line was a specific reference to intelligence officials who acted in good faith.”

But that doesn’t mean any inferences about the fate of the Office of Legal Counsel staffers who drew up the memos should be drawn from this.

This is consistent with a report from today’s Washington Post, which said the president’s statement on memos’ release was “carefully worded” to leave open the possibility that “higher-level administration officials could face jeopardy,” though that may or not may not apply to officials like Addington, Yoo, Bybee, et al.

Stay tuned.

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