As Joan Walsh notes, a new Newsweek article just out from Daniel Klaidman is sub-headlined: "Obama doesn't want to look back, but Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway" and reports:
Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter.
Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."
I'll believe that only if and when I see it, but as Obama himself has recognized, it's ultimately irrelevant what Obama wants in this regard. The duty to bring prosecutions where they are merited falls squarely and solely with the Attorney General, and indeed, it would be highly inappropriate for the President to attempt to pressure him one way or the other.
As Holder ostensibly recognizes, the type of political considerations that Obama defenders typically cite in order to justify the President's opposition to prosecutions ("it will ruin bipartisanship; it will distract from health care; he has to focus on the economy") are completely inappropriate for an apolitical Attorney General to allow to steer him away from prosecutions where serious crimes were committed. That's particularly true where, as here, we're talking about serious war crimes which the U.S. is obligated by treaty to submit for prosecution. The appointment of a strong and truly independent prosecutor to investigate Bush-era war crimes would be a substantial step in the right direction.
-- Glenn Greenwald
Another great column from Greenwald today, he just keeps churning out these awesome posts, almost every day. I've bolded the last paragraph of the section I've pasted here. I think it's imperative to grasp the point he makes that the Attorney General has to act independently of the Obama Administration. Under Bush, the whole Justice Department, not just the AGs, was used as a political arm of the administration, you can judge for yourself the results, as more comes to light day by day.