Is John Durham the man for the job?

His appointment is central to the question of whether or not there can be a decent Justice Dept investigation into the destruction of the Torture Tapes. The fact that Bush tried to talk Mukasey out of the investigation shows there won’t be any cooperation by the White House into the investigaton of the destruction of the tapes. Several pundits, both legal and otherwise, weigh in on this subject below.

Dahlia Lithwick for Slate gives us her pov:

And Durham appears to be more than merely apolitical. He appears to be zealous in his ability to smoke out wrongdoing, even when it’s the alleged good guys who have been doing the wrong. Durham’s career-making prosecution was, after all, an appointment by Janet Reno to go after criminal conduct by the FBI and other government agents who had apparently been in bed with mobsters in Boston for decades. In this fascinating 2001 profile in the Hartford Courant, Durham is described as nonpartisan, incorruptible, and totally devoted to the integrity of the justice system. He was able to go after corrupt federal agents precisely because his belief in the system transcended his devotion to the government.

To be sure, Durham faces challenges in his CIA investigations that will make the Boston prosecution look like a day at the ballpark. Both the CIA and the White House will throw as much sand in his eyes as they possibly can, and if Harriet Miers can be prevented from testifying about fired U.S. attorneys, you can bet the White House won’t make it easy for Durham to investigate allegations of lies and obstruction. The fact that Durham ultimately answers to Mukasey is hardly comforting, either.


But maybe it’s enough just to note a slight trend: When it comes to saying no to the president, Mukasey is exponentially braver than Gonzales was, and when it comes to exposing government misconduct, Durham may well prove braver than Mukasey. At a press conference about the Boston prosecution, Durham was asked by a reporter whether the Department of Justice truly had “the stomach to pursue this investigation to its conclusion,” even if that meant further eroding the FBI’s credibility. Durham’s response at the time: “The government absolutely has the stomach.” Here’s hoping his stomach can stay that strong.

Glen Greenwald @ Salon has a long-winded post about the whole internal investigation impartiality angle. His take on Durham is that he is an upstanding guy. WaPo points out his shortcomings:

But Durham has had little experience with national security issues and with cases involving executive authority that appear to be less than black-and-white. His probe may require calling lawyers and aides to Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the CIA before a grand jury to testify about their knowledge of the tapes’ destruction.

At TPM, David Kurtz has his say: All indications are that Durham, a registered Republican, is a competent, independent, tough-minded prosecutor, precisely the type of lawyer you would want leading such a high-profile, complex, politically charged investigation.

All I can figure out is this, and many pundits agree…the DOJ wants control over this investigation, unlike PlameGate and their appointment of Fitzy as a Special Prosecutor. Control is a hallmark of the Bush administration..and that bothers me greatly. Mukasey hasn’t endeared himself to me one iota and that doesn’t bode well for this investigation imho. Can you say Whitewash? I can, but I hope I am wrong. Durham can be a standup guy in his own right..but if his boss Mukasey and/or BushCo don’t want him to find the truth..he won’t.

Tags: Mukasey, Justice Department, John Durham, Torture Tapes

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