Just the facts and the law, ma’am

I don’t think we’ve covered it, but the biggest story of the past few days may turn out to reports that Attorney General Holder is inclined to appoint a prosecutor to examine the actions of those who interrogated terrorists during the Bush administration. The Washington Post writes about this today in a story about how tough life is for Eric Holder.

The Post’s report (by Carrie Johnson and Krissah Thompson) explains the scope of the contemplated investigation (to be handled by a prosecutor from inside the Justice Department) as follows:

The inquiry. . .is designed to be narrowly confined [to the issue of whether CIA interrogators crossed legal lines set out by the Bush administration] and would not conflict with messages from President Obama about following the facts and the law where they lead, according to a senior Justice Department official. . .

There seems to be a tension here. If the investigation is narrowly confined, can it truly follow the facts and the law where they lead? My guess is that the investigation will start out narrow but, following the usual pattern with “special” prosecutors, spill over into a broad inquest that encompasses not just interrogators but also administration and policy makers, on the theory that this is where the facts and the law led.


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