Holder finally drops investigations of CIA interrogators

posted at 9:32 pm on June 30, 2011 by Allahpundit

Not quite all of them — two cases involving the actual death of a detainee will still be pursued, which is as it should be — but more than 100 involving less significant incidents will be cashiered. This probe was one of the last vestiges of the original Obama counterterror agenda. He banned enhanced interrogation and gave the order to close Gitmo on day two of his administration; a few weeks later, he opened the door to prosecuting Bush-era CIA interrogators. Fast-forward two years and not only is Gitmo still open, he’s now the guy who sent SEALs to shoot Bin Laden in the face, who’s pounded jihadis with drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, who’s marked Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, for death, and who’s running a war in Libya that’s not only unauthorized by Congress but illegal according to Pentagon lawyers and his own OLC chief. Under those circumstances, how absurd would it have been for Eric Holder to start dragging CIA agents into court over waterboarding, let alone lesser coercive techniques like belly slaps or stress positions? It would have angered hawks by punishing guys who were acting zealously to prevent further attacks, and it would have angered doves who’d be forced to revisit O’s own Bush-on-steroids counterterror record. So, bye-bye prosecutions.

I wonder, was this a going-away present for Panetta or a “clean slate” housewarming present for Petraeus, who was approved today by the Senate as the new DCIA, 94-0?

In a statement to CIA employees on his last day as director, Leon E. Panetta said Thursday that after an examination of more than 100 instances in which the agency allegedly had contact with terrorism detainees, Assistant U.S. Atty. John Durham decided that further investigation was warranted in just two cases. Each of those cases resulted in a death…

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., who announced the CIA investigations in August 2009, followed Panetta’s announcement with a statement that confirmed the decision but did not explain it. Beyond the two detainee deaths, “the department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted,” Holder said.

The announcements mean that no CIA officer will face prosecution in connection with interrogations that the agency’s inspector general and a Justice Department official under former President George W. Bush concluded had exceeded what lawyers had authorized.

Petraeus nudged the White House about this during his congressional testimony last week:

During his confirmation hearing to lead the CIA, Petraeus said “it is time to take the rearview mirrors off the bus with respect to certain actions out there.” Petraeus did not specifically mention Durham’s investigation, but he referred to CIA practices conducted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“We do not any longer truly, I think, appreciate the context of the post-9/11 period and some actions that were taking place under direction,” Petraeus told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “And I, for one, again, as the potential leader of the agency, would like to see us focus forward and indeed put some of these actions behind us once and for all and put our workforce at rest with respect to that.”

Serious question, just to round off the thought I began up above: Does anyone think at this point that Obama would force the CIA to abide by his original order banning EIT if they had a jihadi in custody whom they sincerely believed had info about a plot in motion? The reflexive conservative response to that will be, “Of course! He’s soft!” But he’s really not when it comes to counterterror. I think The One made a decision early on, after those initial gestures to his base, that under no circumstances would he let the war on terror become a major liability against him. Maybe his early battles with Cheney wised him up on that, or maybe he came around to it of his own accord. Either way, given that one of the reasons he’s been so drone-happy is because he wants to avoid capturing jihadis and dealing with the interrogation/imprisonment questions, it’s almost unfathomable that he’d suddenly become a stickler for hands-off interrogation if the CIA desperately needed info to stop an attack.

Intel officials of various stripes have been pressuring Holder to drop these investigations for ages (remember the letter sent to him two years ago by seven former CIA chiefs?), but this is almost certainly Panetta’s victory. In August 2009, rumor had it that not only had he gotten in a screaming match with a White House official about the would-be prosecutions, he was thinking of quitting over it. Today, on his last day as DCIA, almost all prosecutions have been formally dropped. He got Bin Laden, he oversaw a very effective drone program, he kept the Agency relatively leak-free, and now he parted ways with a big win for their personnel. Has any Obama appointee performed above expectations to the extent he has?

Update (Ed): Just to answer Allahpundit’s question, I was very skeptical about the idea of appointing Panetta as CIA chief.  I’ll admit to being wrong on that call.  There may have been better choices, but Panetta has had a very successful run as DCIA.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Elections make people do strange things.

SouthernGent on June 30, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Stedman is an utter failure.

mizflame98 on June 30, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Watch it. He is gone within a month.

AshleyTKing on June 30, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Kudos to panetta for where it mattered. Too bad the rest of them are a total zero.

AH_C on June 30, 2011 at 9:39 PM

I wouldn’t piss in Holders’ mouth if his teeth were on fire.

BobMbx on June 30, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Dummies, imbeciles, impertinents and snails are indignant.

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2011 at 9:41 PM

That is a pretty fair assessment of Panetta as being probably the best of the picks by the Obama administration.

firepilot on June 30, 2011 at 9:41 PM

The war president.

KMC1 on June 30, 2011 at 9:42 PM

If you Spot-Check your national radio “news”, they are reporting the 2 cases that will go ahead.

No mention of the ones that got tossed.

Del Dolemonte on June 30, 2011 at 9:42 PM

So he dropped the investigation. Now could someone drop him from the Cabinet?

honsy on June 30, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Has any Obama appointee performed above expectations to the extent he has?

Whose expectations? Point of view is key to this question.

BobMbx on June 30, 2011 at 9:44 PM

He has seen the Light,or Heat!

canopfor on June 30, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Eric the Red can’t be bothered with these prosecutions at this time; he’s got a cover-up to run.

hillbillyjim on June 30, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Stedman is an utter failure.

mizflame98 on June 30, 2011 at 9:35 PM

I thought it was Detective Ron Harris.

darwin-t on June 30, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Spreading a little goodwill before the shiite hits the fan over Gunwalker?

iurockhead on June 30, 2011 at 9:50 PM

He looks like a meerkat and smells like a skunk.

carbon_footprint on June 30, 2011 at 9:51 PM

Serious question, just to round off the thought I began up above: Does anyone think at this point that Obama would force the CIA to abide by his original order banning EIT if they had a jihadi in custody whom they sincerely believed had info about a plot in motion? The reflexive conservative response to that will be, “Of course! He’s soft!” But he’s really not when it comes to counterterror. I think The One made a decision early on, after those initial gestures to his base, that under no circumstances would he let the war on terror become a major liability against him.

Running from Afghanistan argues against that.

Slowburn on June 30, 2011 at 9:51 PM

So, wants to make sure he does not go down over fast and furious, my guess.

bluemarlin on June 30, 2011 at 9:52 PM


he’s now the guy who sent SEALs to shoot Bin Laden in the face, who’s pounded jihadis with drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen …

From hippie dippie flower power to capt kickass! (Thank God!)


… how absurd would it have been for Eric Holder to start dragging CIA agents into court over waterboarding, let alone lesser coercive techniques like belly slaps or stress positions?

Dude, when I was in the Air Force, the “pink belly” was considered an “enhanced technique”! I’ll tell you ANYTHING ya wanna know while getting a pink belly! OUCH!

Tony737 on June 30, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Eric the Red can’t be bothered with these prosecutions at this time; he’s got a cover-up to run.

hillbillyjim on June 30, 2011 at 9:48 PM

hillbillyjim:Good one!:)

canopfor on June 30, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Update (Ed): Just to answer Allahpundit’s question, I was very skeptical about the idea of appointing Panetta as CIA chief. I’ll admit to being wrong on that call. There may have been better choices, but Panetta has had a very successful run as DCIA.

This is my feeling also. I made a big deal elsewhere about this proved what a dumb f*** Obama was. Panetta did a Helluva job and even opted out of protecting Pelosi as I recall.

Southernblogger on June 30, 2011 at 9:56 PM

But he’s really not when it comes to counterterror. I think The One made a decision early on, after those initial gestures to his base, that under no circumstances would he let the war on terror become a major liability against him.

Still just about him, no consideration for what is right for the country and us citizens! POS!

bluemarlin on June 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM

I wonder, was this a going-away present for Panetta or a “clean slate” housewarming present for Petraeus, who was approved today by the Senate as the new DCIA, 94-0?

Neither, they are afraid of Patraeus, and they should be.

Dr Evil on June 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Gunwalker!!

PappyD61 on June 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM

he kept the Agency relatively leak-free,

The NYTimes is not going to kneecap a Democrat.

pedestrian on June 30, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Maybe I’m just too cynical for my own good, but I really hope that the timing on this was more of a Well Done to Panetta than some back-door deal to make Gunrunner go away. Panetta absolutely deserves the props, but I don’t trust this administration as far as I can spit.

CantCureStupid on June 30, 2011 at 10:20 PM

Panetta = Best Obama Appointee
Holder = Worst Obama Appointee

Jon Fezzik on June 30, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Panetta had a very successful run? Really? Is that the consensus among intelligence communities?

Christien on June 30, 2011 at 10:26 PM

AP your cavalier attitude is repugnant in this. Investigating just two men is not half a victory. They should all go free without any investigation. Don’t you get it to satisfy his liberal base these two men will be place on trial next year and paraded around the country like Leopold and Loeb. It will be a pure kangaroo court. Let me know how it goes in a Washington, DC, courtroom with these two men being brought on trial from Eric Holder and B.O. There will be no justice in this.

Jdripper on June 30, 2011 at 10:36 PM

I wonder, was this a going-away present for Panetta or a “clean slate” housewarming present for Petraeus, who was approved today by the Senate as the new DCIA, 94-0?

I think this was a ….please stop coming for me, over giving guns to drug cartels in Mexico. A moment of…if I drop this…you’ll drop that. Right?

capejasmine on June 30, 2011 at 10:47 PM

ACLU hardest hit…

d1carter on June 30, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Neither, they are afraid of Patraeus, and they should be.
Dr Evil on June 30, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Don’t you mean BETRAYUS?

The dems are so disgusting!

Bambi on June 30, 2011 at 10:51 PM

I think Holder is increasingly viewed as a political liability. The Gunwalker scandal is going to be devastating, and it is only the last in a series of outrages by this despicable tool. Obama can’t afford to have this corrupt incompetent’s agency on the congressional griddle. He wants the mess cleared up in time for it to be forgotten.

On the other hand, Holder was only carrying the water for Obama, as always. Apparently Obama has decided he has bigger fish to fry. I’m sure Holder’s view of the situation isn’t very important to Obama, if it ever was.

novaculus on June 30, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Poo.

Mason on June 30, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Fast-forward two years and not only is Gitmo still open, he’s now the guy who sent SEALs to shoot Bin Laden in the face, who’s pounded jihadis with drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, who’s marked Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, for death, and who’s running a war in Libya that’s not only unauthorized by Congress but illegal according to Pentagon lawyers and his own OLC chief.

…..Amazing…
…………….In just over 2 years…Obama has done what Bush couldn’t do….

Get liberals to support war and love Bush’s terrorism policies.

“Peace out and bombs away!!!!!

Baxter Greene on June 30, 2011 at 10:57 PM

The good side of Murphy’s Law:

You can’t screw everything up all the time…even if you are trying real hard to do so!!!

landlines on June 30, 2011 at 11:49 PM

Gawd, Democrats stink, every one of them. The only ones that don’t are just by comparison.

drunyan8315 on June 30, 2011 at 11:55 PM

he kept the Agency relatively leak-free

I’m not sure the media’s been as motivated to publish leaks as they were during the Bush era.

JavelinaBomb on July 1, 2011 at 12:05 AM

he kept the Agency relatively leak-free

I’m not sure the media’s been as motivated to publish leaks as they were during the Bush era.

JavelinaBomb on July 1, 2011 at 12:05 AM

True. During the administration of President George W. Bush, some at the CIA went beyond leaking and into treason territory. The 2007 analysis of Iran’s nuclear program I believe was faked by the CIA for political effect. Those that wrote it should have been prosecuted.

slickwillie2001 on July 1, 2011 at 12:19 AM

I’m not sure the media’s been as motivated to publish leaks as they were during the Bush era.

JavelinaBomb on July 1, 2011 at 12:05 AM

I’m pretty sure they haven’t been.

Cylor on July 1, 2011 at 1:45 AM

Panetta had a very successful run? Really? Is that the consensus among intelligence communities?

Christien on June 30, 2011 at 10:26 PM

A dear friend on the inside, says Panetta did a pretty damn good job.

Jimmy Doolittle on July 1, 2011 at 4:30 AM

At the very least, I question the motivation of anyone who agrees to work for this regime. Generally, their patriotism and intelligence are highly suspect (look at who Duh Won surrounds himself with). If Petraeus is in there to try to blunt the effect of Osh*tstain’s abuses and provide an image of leadership that exists nowhere else in Obamaland, then fine. But if he actually thinks he will accomplish anything, he’s pissing up a rope.

Extrafishy on July 1, 2011 at 5:49 AM

but more than 100 involving less significant incidents will be cashiered.

Poor, POOR choice of words sir, look up the origins of the phrase.

E9RET on July 1, 2011 at 7:20 AM

Thank Petraeus, he made this happen.

PaCadle on July 1, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Holder must be plenty nervous by now. He finds himself standing on the corner, next to his ole buddy Obama, and he notices that the Bus is coming.

Uniblogger on July 1, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Maybe Petraeus made dismissal of the charges a condition of his acceptance of the post at CIA.

sandspur on July 1, 2011 at 9:23 AM

I was wrong about Panetta, too. I had always considered him to be more or less a standard political hack and was (pleasantly) surprised to learn how well-regarded he was inside the Beltway. From all reports, he’s done quite a decent job at the CIA and I wish him similar success at the Pentagon.

SukieTawdry on July 1, 2011 at 9:24 AM

I had just posed a day or two ago aht prosecuting enhanced interrogation is interrogation that is bloodless. It leaes no deaths. They turn around and sell arms to be used to kill innocents and thought nothing of it. The gun fiasco is deadly. The waterboarding was actually cleansing.

seven on July 1, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Does anyone think at this point that Obama would force the CIA to abide by his original order banning EIT if they had a jihadi in custody whom they sincerely believed had info about a plot in motion? The reflexive conservative response to that will be, “Of course! He’s soft!” But he’s really not when it comes to counterterror. I think The One made a decision early on, after those initial gestures to his base, that under no circumstances would he let the war on terror become a major liability against him. Maybe his early battles with Cheney wised him up on that, or maybe he came around to it of his own accord. Either way, given that one of the reasons he’s been so drone-happy is because he wants to avoid capturing jihadis and dealing with the interrogation/imprisonment questions, it’s almost unfathomable that he’d suddenly become a stickler for hands-off interrogation if the CIA desperately needed info to stop an attack.

Mr.Obama doesn’t think about the War on Terror. He simply ignores it unless one of his familiars or minions brings it to his attention. He truly doesn’t believe there is any threat whatsoever from jihadis in the US. He doesn’t care.

The War on Terror is being fought by career CIA, DoD and Law Enforcement personnel who are permanently assigned to those departments no matter which party controls the administration. The regular guys are finding ways to keep themselves potent and relevant in the game because they do NOT trust the Obama appointees (at least those without significant government experience) to understand the game or make the correct decisions. So they are finding ways to do what needs to be done without going to the political appointees for too much. DoD has that culture, and so does CIA.

Panetta has actually done an outstanding job, but he understands the federal government policies and processes. He makes decisions. Gates did too. The rest of Obama’s cabinet is incompetent. At least CIA and DoD will still be in competent hands….because Obama, Daley, Holder, Napolitano, and Biden are most certainly, totally, and utterly incompetent to run their departments.

Subsunk

Subsunk on July 1, 2011 at 5:27 PM