President Obama inflamed his political opponents last week when he curtly dismissed 9/11 family member Debra Burlingame's entreaty that he use his presidential bully pulpit to call for the cessation of an ongoing, partisan, and redundant Justice Department probe into CIA interrogators. Burlingame recounted her exchange with the president:
Summarizing: The President of the United States has no intention of lending his voice to the growing chorus calling for these disgraceful investigations to be shut down. He refuses to do so even in the wake of Osama bin Laden's man-caused death -- a triumph made possible, in large part, by the very targets Eric Holder's political persecution. The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger explains why the current DOJ action is both indefensible and gratuitous:
In August 2009, Attorney General Holder announced that he was extending the mandate of Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" of terrorist detainees. Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey had appointed Mr. Durham in 2008 as a special prosecutor to look into the CIA's destruction of videotapes made during interrogations of two al Qaeda operatives. That investigation ended without charges last November...If Mr. Holder has evidence of an egregious crime, he should step forward and announce it. If not, he should use this moment to put an end to the Durham investigation.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been one of the president's most relentless and effective critics on national security policy. Cheney appeared on Fox News Sunday yesterday to discuss bin Laden's death, and host Chris Wallace asked him about the recently reignited DOJ/CIA controversy (the key bit runs from 6:25 to 8:15). Cheney offered a strong rebuke of the Obama/Holder policy:
"These men deserve to be decorated; they don't deserve to be prosecuted."
Well said, Mr. Vice President. As it happens, a bipartisan cadre of seven former CIA directors happens to agree with Cheney; they've implored the White House to drop the investigation, asserting that it sets a dangerous precedent and damages Agency morale. As Henninger writes, if the President and his Attorney General have gathered new, meaningful evidence of criminal behavior by our interrogators, let's see it. If not, this witch-hunt -- the purpose of which has always been to embarrass the previous administration -- must be jettisoned immediately.
The recent killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was unlikely to affect the timing of the closure of the Guantanamo facility, Holder said.
"Although we have not closed Guantanamo within the time period that we initially indicated ... it is still the intention of the president, and it is still my intention, to close the facility that exists in Guantanamo," Holder told a joint news briefing with French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.
"We think that by closing that facility the national security of the United States will be enhanced," he added.