Legal analysts question legality of targeting US lawyers in torture inquiry

WASHINGTON - With President Barack Obama reopening the possibility of investigating and even prosecuting Bush Administration lawyers on the so-called “torture memos”, the legal analysts have questioned question the US Justice Department move.

These “torture memos” cleared the way for the CIA to use harsh interrogation methods when questioning suspected terrorists.

Obama’s move doesn’t mean those attorneys will end up facing prison sentences any time soon, FOX News reported.

Some legal analysts doubt the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder have the stomach for taking on their predecessors. And others question whether the Justice Department would pursue a case that amounts to prosecuting a legal opinion.

“My prediction is you’ll never see prosecutions,” said Doug Burns, a former federal prosecutor.

He said Obama was merely back-pedalling on Tuesday to blunt the political backlash he was facing from the left.

Though the president has said that CIA agents will not be charged for following legal guidelines for interrogations, some Democrats have pushed him to support prosecution of the lawyers who drafted the legal ground for such interrogations. Obama said Tuesday that he will defer to Holder on those potential charges.

“It would really be a very, very difficult case to make,” said Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former official in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

Not impossible, though. Fein said the prosecutor in the case would have to prove that the Bush attorneys essentially fabricated the legal justification in their memos.

He said the prosecutor could try to bring charges of aiding and abetting torture, or conspiracy, to do so.

But Fein, who said there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation into top Bush Administration officials over the interrogations, questioned the logic of targeting lawyers who did not by themselves order any interrogations.

David Rivkin, an attorney and member of the Council on Foreign Relations who has argued that the memos prove the Bush Administration did not torture, gave a similar opinion. (ANI)


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