Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Wednesday launched a criminal investigation into the destruction of videotapes of terrorism interrogations by CIA personnel, and appointed Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham to oversee the FBI’s investigation. (Legal Times via Yahoo! Finance)
What the commentators said
What a “refreshing break,” said Newsday in an editorial. “Michael Mukasey is behaving like an attorney general who actually wants to find out who authorized the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes and whether that person or persons broke the law.” Durham is a tough prosecutor, but he’ll have to “navigate a minefield of powerful interests” to find out how high up in the Bush administration the fate of the tapes was decided.
Congress will have to be patient and let Durham do his job, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial (free registration). “The fact that criminal charges are a possibility means that some CIA figures who might have testified before Congress” won't be available. Lawmakers will have to “accept that reality” as they look into the matter themselves to avoid “jeopardizing prosecutions.”
Mukasey is the one jeopardizing possible prosecutions by appointing a Justice Department employee to lead the investigation, said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in USA Today. This scandal cries out for an independent special counsel. “The recent scandal over the firing of U.S. attorneys has taught us that this administration cannot be trusted to keep politics out of prosecutions, and when administration officials are alleged to have committed crimes, we need more independence, not less.”