Monday, August 24, 2009

Torture bait and switch?

A political shuffle on torture?

It had been reported that the Justice Dept. would comply with a court order today and release a suppressed report by the CIA inspector general on interrogation abuses.

But instead the Justice Dept. website leads with Obama's decision to establish an elite interrogation unit to question presumed high-value captives.

From what I am able to discern, that decision had actually been made a while ago. So the leak to the Times just in advance of official confirmation smothers the question of what happened to the torture report.

I expect the Justice Dept. will release the report -- on Labor Day weekend when the public won't be paying attention. Then, by the following Tuesday, the report will be "old news" and perhaps get short shrift.

No doubt the White House is hoping to nix the controversy because it fears a "right-wing" wedge issue that could destabilize the health care initiative.

Holder was also expected to disclose today whether he would assign prosecutors to investigate whether any of the abuses were so bad that prosecution is warranted. Nothing on that either. Maybe that will get kicked back to Labor Day weekend also.

As to the actual decision to name an elite interrogation unit. That shows Obama's way of going after difficult problems. Pretty good. But, the FBI will control the unit. The FBI has been thoroughly dishonest about what happened on 9/11. Still, it has been reported that the White House concedes that the intelligence sector will see a lot of top-level changes in the first year. Hopefully, that includes the FBI.

Now I'm not really playing prophet here concerning what looks like a political switcheroo concerning the torture report and the need for prosecutions. So I won't mind being wrong. We'll see.

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