New chapter on CIA interrogations: prosecutor picked
Even Attorney General Eric Holder calls it “controversial” — his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to look into prisoner abuse cases involving CIA interrogators and contractors.
He picked career federal prosecutor John Durham, who was already investigating the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes. While he’s not exactly a household name, the investigation has only just begun.
Other former special prosecutors were relatively obscure at the start and then launched into the limelight — remember Ken Starr of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and Patrick Fitzgerald who investigated the outing of Valerie Plame.
The White House says President Barack Obama, who previously said he wanted to look forward not backward, had left the decision of going the special prosecutor route totally up to Holder.
Supporters of the investigation see it as a way for the United States to regain the moral high ground on torture issues. Opponents say it makes the United States look weak and will make the CIA more risk-averse and hurt national security.
“It could in the long-term strengthen the notion that the United States made some mistakes but we’ve corrected certain practices, and now we’re continuing to combat terrorism in a way that’s closer to the principles on which our country is founded,” Stephen Flanagan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says.
A former intelligence official said: “When Osama bin Laden hears about it, he may die laughing.”
What do you think? Is appointing a special prosecutor a good idea?
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (CIA headquarters lobby)