Holder Announces Torture Whitewash

By Kenneth J. Theisen

On Thursday, June 30, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced another of the Obama administration’s cover-ups of the crimes of the U.S. government in regard to torture and death conducted by the Bush regime and now continued by the current administration. Holder stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) is launching a "full criminal investigation" into the deaths of two detainees in U.S. custody.

This “investigation” announcement is the result of a “review” as to whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation and murder of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. In August 2009 Holder, in order to quell the outrage at U.S. instituted torture, announced that he had appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to review allegations of torture and other crimes.


But the “review” was really part of a wider cover-up effort to whitewash these massive crimes. Now after a nearly two year “review” Holder expects people to believe that justice is being done because DOJ is “investigating” only two of these crimes? Tens of thousands of prisoners have been held by the U.S. and its allies in the U.S. war of terror since 9/11/01. The vast majority was abused and many faced torture by various government agents such as those employed by the CIA or the war department. Many were actually murdered in custody.

And yet Obama and his legal minions have yet to hold any of the top criminal dogs in the Bush regime accountable for these crimes. In fact, the present administration continues many of these same policies and crimes and covers up the past crimes. Extraordinary rendition, torture and abuse, indefinite detention, denial of legal rights, etc, all continue and in many cases have been “legalized” under Obama. Obama’s lawyers were successful this last week in convincing the Supreme Court not to hear a case of 250 civilians tortured and seriously harmed by corporate contractors of the U.S. at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. These prisoners are now left with out legal redress because of Obama’s actions in their case.

Holder’s actions are just part and parcel of this continued policy of the U.S. government to allow torture to continue and to avoid holding any top criminals in the government liable for their crimes.

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said of Holder’s announcement, "While we welcome the announcement that the Justice Department will conduct a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody, it is difficult to understand the prosecutor's conclusion that only those two deaths warrant further investigation. For a period of several years, and with the approval of the Bush administration’s most senior officials, the CIA operated an interrogation program that subjected prisoners to unimaginable cruelty and violated both international and domestic law. The narrow investigation that Attorney General Holder announced today is not proportionate to the scale and scope of the wrongdoing."

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project also stated, ”We continue to believe that the scope of Mr. Durham’s mandate was far too narrow. As Attorney General Holder’s statement makes clear, Mr. Durham was tasked principally with investigating interrogations that went beyond the bounds set by the Justice Department. However, the central problem was not with interrogators who disobeyed orders, but with senior officials who authorized a program of torture. The Justice Department must conduct an investigation that is broad enough to reach the senior officials who were most responsible for developing this program."

Holder went out of his way to send a clear signal that torture and death is fine with the Obama administration. In making his announcement he stated, that intelligence officials provide an “incredibly important service to our nation.” He went on to say that, “They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work that they do.” Maybe we should hold a national torturers week to thank them. Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, Yoo, Gonzales, etc. will sleep well tonight knowing there crimes will not be investigated anytime soon.


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.