Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee want Eric Holder to commit to not prosecute Bush administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture. (Photo: Reuters)
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have asked Eric Holder
to make a commitment, before he is even confirmed, that he will not prosecute
any Bush Administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture during
the last administration.
In an effort to derail the nomination of Attorney General-designate Eric Holder, it seems Senate Republicans are now resorting to extortion. They'll confirm Holder if he promises not to prosecute any Bush Administration officials for any involvement in acts of torture, according to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse(D-RI).
Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system - especially those with experience as prosecutors or judges - should know that a prosecutor should make no determination about who to prosecute before he or she has all the facts, and particularly not in response to legislative pressure.
Senator Whitehouse makes a good point about the separation of powers. It isn't for the legislative branch to hold up executive branch appointments, in order to extract promises from those appointees, especially with regard to potential future prosecutions. But it's much more than that.
I understand that President Obama wants to get beyond the partisan divisions and rancor and look to America's future. That's all good and well, but the United States was founded on the rule of law. You often hear that "we are a nation of laws, not men." If the rule of law were not important, what would separate our nation from countries like Myanmar (Burma) or North Korea?
If Eric Holder, or any other Obama appointee subject to confirmation by the Senate, were to agree not to investigate alleged wrongdoing Bush Administration officials and forward alleged crimes for potential prosecution, it would be an egregious abdication of responsibility, not to mention an act of questionable legal ethics. It would say to future generations that at a time when the Bush Administration felt it was above the law, Democrats did nothing but stand idly by and let it happen.
And then we'd be no different than them.