Criminal Probe on CIA Tapes Opened Case Assigned to Career Prosecutor
By Dan Eggen and Joby Warrick Washington Post Staff Writers Thursday, January 3, 2008; A01
The Justice Department said yesterday that it has opened a formal criminal investigation into the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes, appointing a career prosecutor to examine whether intelligence officials broke the law by destroying videos of exceptionally harsh questioning of terrorism suspects.
The criminal probe, announced by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, significantly escalates a preliminary inquiry into whether the CIA's actions constituted an obstruction of justice. Officials have said that some White House and Justice Department lawyers advised the CIA not to destroy the tapes, which contained information of interest to the attorneys of detainees and to a congressionally chartered panel examining the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The decision opens the door to fresh scrutiny of the CIA's activities by the FBI, which clashed repeatedly with CIA field officers over the use of the harsh interrogation techniques and ultimately withdrew its own agents from interrogations to avoid entanglement in activities that senior FBI officials considered improper.
To oversee the probe, Mukasey appointed John Durham, a career federal prosecutor from Connecticut, bypassing the department's Washington headquarters and the local U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, which recused itself from the case.
There is always a lever to the opening of criminal government and I must admit I never thought that pry-bar would turn out to be Mike Mukasey.
But strange things happen on the way to retirement and Mike was already a retired federal judge of some distinction. Apparently he has no intention of capping his career by becoming George Bush's Gonzales-like lap-dog at the Justice Department.
There's a long way to go and a short time to go there.
Even so, one can feel the stonewallers within the administration fingering their collars a bit in the discomfort of too tight a fit. Wouldn't it be delicious to have David Addington under oath before a federal prosecutor?