"President Obama's choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior
Republican senators that he won't prosecute CIA officers or political appointees
who were involved in the Bush administration's policy of 'enhanced interrogations.'
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.'s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama's Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.
Mr. Holder's promise apparently was key to moving his nomination forward. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17-2 to favorably recommend Holder for the post. He is likely to be confirmed by the Senate soon."
Prosecutions off the table - even for people like Gonzales and Yoo. So says Eli Lake.
BUT I would like to know exactly what was said to Kit Bond. Bond's actual quoted statements in the article are less severe:
"In the interview Wednesday, Mr. Bond said, 'I made it clear that trying to
prosecute political leaders would generate a political firestorm the Obama
administration doesn't need.'
He added, 'I was concerned about previous statements he made and others had made. He gave me assurances that he would not take those steps that would cause major disruptions in our intelligence system or cause political warfare. We don't need that kind of political warfare. He gave me assurances he is looking forward.'
Mr. Bond also said, 'I believe he will look forward to keep the nation safe and not look backwards to prosecute intelligence operators who were fighting terror and kept our country safe since 9-11.'"
IOW, Mr. Bond may believe Holder won't prosecute - but that doesn't mean he won't. There hasn't been a public promise to that effect. Who knows what language Holder used. Being optimistic here.
It doesn't look good for prosecutions, by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm hoping that Bond and the Washington Times are just doing their job as dutiful Republicans causing trouble for Democrats and protecting their own.
The LA Times op-ed page has an editorial on Cornyn's request that Holder take prosecutions off the table. They say it crosses an ethical line. I hope Holder has not in fact agreed to cross that line with Cornyn and Bond.
Update: Via mcjoan, apparently Sheldon Whitehouse was not in on the Holder-Bond conversation:
"We came perilously close to seeking a prosecutive commitment from an AG
candidate on an issue he would have to make a decision on. We don't ask
judicial candidates their position on a case, the notion that a person who is a
candidate for AG should have to make a prosecutative decision before he has even
read the file or before he has even been read into the program at question."