Category Archives: John Durham

Is John Durham the man for the job?


His appointment is central to the question of whether or not there can be a decent Justice Dept investigation into the destruction of the Torture Tapes. The fact that Bush tried to talk Mukasey out of the investigation shows there won’t be any cooperation by the White House into the destruction of the tapes. Several pundits, both legal and otherwise, weigh in on this subject below.

Dahlia Lithwick for Slate gives us her pov:

And Durham appears to be more than merely apolitical. He appears to be zealous in his ability to smoke out wrongdoing, even when it’s the alleged good guys who have been doing the wrong. Durham’s career-making prosecution was, after all, an appointment by Janet Reno to go after criminal conduct by the FBI and other government agents who had apparently been in bed with mobsters in Boston for decades. In this fascinating 2001 profile in the Hartford Courant, Durham is described as nonpartisan, incorruptible, and totally devoted to the integrity of the justice system. He was able to go after corrupt federal agents precisely because his belief in the system transcended his devotion to the government.

To be sure, Durham faces challenges in his CIA investigations that will make the Boston prosecution look like a day at the ballpark. Both the CIA and the White House will throw as much sand in his eyes as they possibly can, and if Harriet Miers can be prevented from testifying about fired U.S. attorneys, you can bet the White House won’t make it easy for Durham to investigate allegations of lies and obstruction. The fact that Durham ultimately answers to Mukasey is hardly comforting, either.

*snip*

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About those torture tapes…


Mukasey had this to say about the ‘investigation’:

“Following a preliminary inquiry into the destruction by CIA personnel of videotapes of detainee interrogations, the Department’s National Security Division has recommended, and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter, and I have taken steps to begin that investigation as outlined below.

“This preliminary inquiry was conducted jointly by the Department’s National Security Division and the CIA’s Office of Inspector General. It was opened on December 8, 2007, following disclosure by CIA Director Michael Hayden on December 6, 2007, that the tapes had been destroyed. A preliminary inquiry is a procedure the Department of Justice uses regularly to gather the initial facts needed to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a criminal investigation of a potential felony or misdemeanor violation. The opening of an investigation does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow.

“An investigation of this kind, relating to the CIA, would ordinarily be conducted under the supervision of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the District in which the CIA headquarters are located. However, in an abundance of caution and on the request of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in accordance with Department of Justice policy, his office has been recused from the investigation of this matter, in order to avoid any possible appearance of a conflict with other matters handled by that office.

“As a result, I have asked John Durham, the First Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, to serve as Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia for purposes of this matter. Mr. Durham is a widely respected and experienced career prosecutor who has supervised a wide range of complex investigations in the past, and I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve in this capacity. As the Acting United States Attorney for purposes of this investigation, Mr. Durham will report to the Deputy Attorney General, as do all United States Attorneys in the ordinary course. I have also directed the FBI to conduct the investigation under Mr. Durham’s supervision.

“Earlier today, the Department provided notice of these developments to Director Hayden and the leadership of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees of the Congress.”

Thats a mouth-ful from Da Judge wouldn’t you say? TPM has an analysis of Mr. Durham;s abilities here. I haven’t read it yet, but will shortly..

Update: Durham is a career prosecutor. Those are the guys that got the most disgusted with and hosed the worst by Gonzo and the ‘Bushies’ brigade. One can hope this means he will take delight in making life miserable for anyone involved in destroying those tapes.

But..I could be wrong ;p