Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bush's key men face grilling on torture and death squads

I sometimes wonder just how much truth there is behind reports that I am reading. Especially this one:

America is bracing itself for a series of investigations that could see top officials from the administration of President George W Bush hauled in front of Congress, grilled by a special prosecutor and possibly facing criminal charges.

Several investigations will now cast a spotlight on Bush-era torture policy and a secret CIA assassination programme, examining the role played by big names such as the former vice-president Dick Cheney and the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In one investigation into the controversial firing of federal prosecutors, Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, has already been forced to appear before Congress and give testimony behind closed doors. Another investigation, by the House of Representatives' intelligence committee, has already asked for documents from the CIA and has now announced that it will examine the legality of keeping a secret CIA hit squad hidden from Congress, something alleged to have been ordered by Cheney himself.

"I intend to make this investigation fair and thorough," said the committee's chairman, Texas congressman Silvestre Reyes late on Friday.

We all know that the Obama administration have been very keen to, "look forward, not backwards" so I am unsure whether or the Guardian are reading too much into these reports.

I would especially love to see the Bush regime brought to account for the use of torture, as I have always argued that the US cannot go forward allowing this issue to stand on the books as a disagreement over policy. War crimes cannot be dismissed or overlooked as "policy differences". The criminality of what the Bush regime engaged in has to be addressed.

So, I am pleased to read that investigations are about to take place, even as I note that The Guardian are speculating slightly.

Holder is mulling whether to appoint a special prosecutor to examine CIA activities since 2001, focusing on the use of torture in interrogation of terror suspects. Any such prosecutor could have the power to bring criminal charges.

Obama has made clear that the final decision is Holder's alone and news reports last week indicated that Holder was "leaning" towards making such a move. The prosecutor's mandate could be narrowly focused on minor officials or broadened to reach the top levels of Bush's cabinet.

The headline leads one to believe that a decision has been reached, but words like "mulling" and "leaning" lead me to believe that The Guardian are engaging in a bit of wishful thinking here.

I would love it were Holder to do the right thing and examine the actions of leading figures in the Bush regime on the subject of war crimes and torture and would hate it if he decided instead only to look at the actions of CIA agents who went beyond the torture allowed by the Bush regime.

The Guardian are leading us to believe that Holder is about to do the former. It would be wonderful, but I won't get too excited until I hear something a bit firmer than this Guardian report.

Click title for full article.

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