Holder still eyeing investigation

HOLDER STILL EYEING INVESTIGATION…. About a month ago, Newsweek reported that Attorney General Eric Holder is “leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation practices,” despite the president’s reluctance. An announcement, the article noted, “could come in a matter of weeks.”

How’s that coming along? We’re apparently getting closer to the appointment of a criminal prosecutor.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. is poised to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuses committed during the interrogation of terrorism suspects, current and former U.S. government officials said.

A senior Justice Department official said that Holder envisioned an inquiry that would be narrow in scope, focusing on “whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized” in Bush administration memos that liberally interpreted anti-torture laws.

That would, indeed, be a “narrow” probe, which would almost certainly exclude those who wrote and followed the Bush administration’s torture memos. Interrogators who worked within the “four corners” of the torture memos would face no scrutiny; those who worked outside of the memos — there are reports, for example, of an interrogator pointing a gun at a detainee during an interrogation — would have some explaining to do.

Under the circumstances, there’s quite a bit of skepticism about the efficacy of the investigation.

Such a prosecutor would examine cases that are generally at least five years old, and probably some that were previously reviewed by career prosecutors who concluded that they could not be pursued.

“I don’t blame them for wanting to look into it,” said a former high-ranking Justice Department official familiar with the details of the program. “But if they appoint a special prosecutor, it would ultimately be unsuccessful, and it would go on forever and cause enormous collateral damage on the way to getting that unsuccessful result.” […]

“An investigation that focuses only on low-ranking operators would be, I think, worse than doing nothing at all,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Holder has reportedly asked his staff to assemble a short list of prosecutors for this investigation. Expect some kind of announcement soon.