head in sand
Holder: "I don’t see any war crimes!"

Despite ongoing disclosures with indisputable proof that the United States tortured detainees under the Bush Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder continues to refuse to prosecute these crimes.

The most recent disclosures include the New York Review of Books publishing excerpts of an International Committee of the Red Cross report detailing the torture of fourteen detainees at Guantanamo. Also, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, published a column on Tuesday decrying the evil that was done in our name.

Faced with these new revelations, CQPolitics reports on Holder’s response to questions about prosecutions:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. signaled Wednesday that the Justice Department is reluctant to examine allegations of illegal treatment of detainees imprisoned around the world during the Bush administration.


The clamor for a Justice Department probe into allegations of detainee torture has intensified this week after the New York Review of Books published excerpts of a 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that contained interviews with detainees who claimed they had been tortured.

“We will let the law and the facts take us to wherever we go,” Holder said. But he added that the administration does not want to criminalize policy differences.

Holder said the department is “mindful” of recent news accounts. But when asked whether there was a formal Justice Department investigation, Holder said, “I wouldn’t say that.”

The conclusion of the ICRC report is unflinching:

The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Wilkerson provides context on the detainees:

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

Wilkerson goes on to refute the claims of actionable intelligence resulting from torture of detainees:

In addition, it has never come to my attention in any persuasive way–from classified information or otherwise–that any intelligence of significance was gained from any of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay other than from the handful of undisputed ring leaders and their companions, clearly no more than a dozen or two of the detainees, and even their alleged contribution of hard, actionable intelligence is intensely disputed in the relevant communities such as intelligence and law enforcement.

What a poor excuse for an Attorney General Eric Holder is if he is mistaking crimes for policy differences. Just because these crimes against humanity were the policy of the Bush cabal does not make them legal. However, as I pointed out before, Holder’s decision not to prosecute, in the face of irrefutable evidence, is a political decision of the worst type.

Jim White

Jim White

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