Holder’s Betrayal

Feb 1 2010 @ 6:33pm

Marcy Wheeler made an OPR report time-line – strongly suggesting that the DOJ's delay in releasing the OPR report was specifically designed to impede Jose Padilla's attempt to bring his torturers to justice. Marc does some reporting:

Holder seems to have believed that the report's release was imminent in June…then in August. Then November. Now — February. According to sources, the official Justice line is that the report is undergoing declassification review, a lengthy process. It is also true that Yoo and Bybee were given several opportunities to dispute the initial draft of the report — a draft that, according to sources of mine, was much harsher on the two men. It's not clear why or who in the department decided that a second round of responses and revisions were necessary. Reporting from August — not disputed at the time by DOJ — suggested that Holder's decision to appoint a prosecutor to re-review the CIA torture cases was influenced by his reading of the OPR report — which was submitted to him for review in what everyone assumed was its final form.

…Most likely, when the report comes out, it'll be framed by the left as a whitewash and by the right as a semi-vindication of the Bush approach to terror.

The details of this critical report and the way it was handled at DOJ are little short of infuriating. Here is a critical report whose conclusions were already clear months ago: that Yoo, Bybee at al were guilty of flagrant incompetence in assessing the law in order to allow their political masters to torture at will. And yet, out of some sort of tradition, DOJ hands over the final version to a 70 year-old career Justice Department official who allowed former DOJ officials to dispute and review the report again and again, and then allowed its central conclusion to be watered down. It is one more sign – along with the blanket dismissal of the serious allegations of misconduct at Gitmo – that the Obama administration is circling the establishment wagons on defending Bush era torture and war crimes. They seem either a) incapable of understanding the gravity of what went on or b) deliberately refusing to tackle clear violations of the law out of the usual political cowardice.

Yes, they ended torture. But everything else they have done has been to protect government law-breaking, rather than to investigate, let alone, prosecute it. There is no other word for this but betrayal – betrayal of the people who supported them and betrayal of those patriots within the government who take the rule of law seriously. But this is how Washington works:

"No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Earlier Dish commentary on the latest developments here.