Senate Republicans hope to delay a vote on the confirmation of Eric Holder to become attorney general in order to pressure him to say whether he will prosecute intelligence agents for torture if they were following orders and acting within what they believed to be legal guidelines.
Holder told the Judiciary Committee last week that waterboarding is "torture" and therefore illegal. Susan J. Crawford, the top Bush administration official overseeing the trials of detainees, told the Washington Post that at least one individual held at the prison center at Guantanamo Bay was "tortured."
The question Republicans want answered before Holder is confirmed: Will you prosecute those who took part in that torture?
Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, January 21. 2009
He's not gone one day and the "rule of law" question is one of the first things to be questioned. Sen. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is blocking the
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), later in the day, said that it would be impossible for any prosecutor to say who should or should not be prosecuted before s/he gets the facts or even knows what actions were committed. Cormyn himself was a prosecutor in a former life; he knows better. Said Graham,
agreed with Sen. Leahy that Holder can't rule out prosecutions before he becomes the top prosecutor.
"What I believe we should do is not politicize this, the idea of prosecutions coming from the hard left. Making a commitment that we'll never prosecute someone is probably not the right way to proceed, either," he said. "I think President Obama's administration is going to have a forward look on this, unless there's something egregious out there I think they'll move on. But no I don't expect him to rule it in or rule it out."
"In individual cases, if there's allegations of mistreatment judges can handle that and you can determine what course to take," he said.
It is going to take a long time to re-institute the Constitution. I fear the damage to it may be much greater than anyone of us knows. This was an exceptionally dark period in American history and the history of democracy.
what's the old saying about power? maybe it's time for term limits in the U.S. Congress. the old farts like Cormyn. if you break the law, you break the law. since when could Congress, or any other legislative body, pass a law that says no one should be prosecuted for breaking the law - before the law's been broken?
also, given the fact that even Tsar George himself last week said that there was torture, anyone who did the waterboarding or any other act had to know what they were doing was illegal, no matter what they were told. at the very least they should have known it was immoral.
well, maybe that would be too much to ask...