Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday opened a preliminary investigation into whether some CIA operatives broke the law in their coercive interrogations of suspected terrorists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- presenting President Barack Obama with the prospect of a long, distracting battle over policies and actions carried out under his predecessor.I know that former President Bush wants to remain respectful of Obama by keeping quiet, but when your successor caters to his terrorist-soothing, vengeance-seeking, Dick Cheney-hating base and makes a clearly partisan move like this, it's time to speak up. Consider too that most Americans are opposed to this leftwing treachery.
Holder said he decided to establish what he called a "preliminary review" after he conducted a thorough examination of past reviews of the interrogations, including an internal Central Intelligence Agency investigation completed in 2004 by the CIA's inspector general and separate reviews by Justice Department internal affairs watchdogs and prosecutors.
He noted "that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow."
But the decision plunged the Obama administration into the kind of controversy it most wanted to avoid -- a polarizing, backward-looking fight over issues far removed from the president's top priorities. And the furor is likely to be all the sharper and more distracting because it pits the most liberal elements of Obama's base against the most unyielding elements of the Republican Party.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sought to position Obama out of the line of fire on Monday. "Ultimately," Gibbs argued, "determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the attorney general."
Holder tapped Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead the review, saying Durham is best positioned to do so because he is already investigating the CIA. Last year, Michael Mukasey, then the attorney general, appointed the Connecticut-based Durham to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations.