Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did Holder just leave himself some Wiggle Room?

I got this from reading Andrew Sullivan (who was reading Marc Ambinder), so this is hardly a thought I can take credit for, but listen to what Ambinder has to say about Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement on the late and lamented Torture Prosecutions:

Here's what Attorney General Holder said today in his statement: "Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct."

The emphasis is Ambinder's.

Now, I work around Lawyers. I work around them every day. My Dad’s new wife is, in fact, a Lawyer herself.

I’m just saying, I know how these guys sound, and I know when they leave themselves wiggle room.

Folks, that ain’t wiggle room, that’s more like a tunnel in which large eighteen wheels can pass.

Sullivan puts it better than I can:

If evidence emerges of bad faith in torture sessions, then those staffers may well face legal consequences. Ditto if the legal advice was given in bad faith, along Nuremberg lines, Yoo and Bybee should start sweating. That's why the internal OPR report on the legal professionalism of the torture lawyers is so crucial and why it is being fought over so fiercely. If Yoo and Bybee's memos were so below legal standards that they can be objectively shown to be a means to get away with torture rather than good faith effort to apply the law to proposed torture techniques, then they too acted in bad faith. And they too are war criminals.

Now, all that said “wiggle room” isn’t a substitute for action (which I think we, the ACLU, Senator Russ Feingold, and civil libertarians would prefer). But it is something, especially when you couple this with action from the Congress. Either Chamber will do.

I think, in the wake of our most recent NSA Spying Story, the Congress might find itself a little more willing to act.

Granted, it has an air of “It’s one thing to have the mob get wiretapped, but now that it’s one of us…” but again, it'll do.

Oh, and in case your fingers were crossed, uncross 'em. Spain isn't going to help:

Despite recent reports to the contrary, Spain’s attorney general has now reportedly decided not to prosecute the Bush Six — the top legal officials in the Bush administration who allegedly approved the torture of terror suspects. Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpio said that the United States would be the proper forum for such a case.

We can only hope.

Originally posted at Fort McHenry.

No comments: