Attorney General Eric Holder dodged questions at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing today on whether he will prosecute the former Justice Department lawyers who wrote memos that authorized harsh interrogation methods against terrorism suspects.
Republicans and Democrats peppered Holder with questions regarding what actions he may take against memo authors Steven Bradbury, Jay Bybee and John Yoo at a hearing that was supposed to be about the Justice Department’s fiscal 2010 budget. Earlier this week, Obama didn’t rule out prosecutions but said it was Holder’s decision.
Holder reiterated throughout the hearing that Justice would not prosecute CIA officials who were following orders and “acted on good faith.” He said he intends to keep politics out of any possible investigation of the memos.
“I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences,” Holder said. He added: “If I see evidence of wrongdoing, I will pursue it to the fullest extent of the law.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) met with Holder on Tuesday to urge him to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the memo authors. The American Civil Liberties Union gave a petition to Justice today that calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Former members of the Bush administration including former Vice President Dick Cheney have called on the Obama administration to declassify and release documents that they said show the harsh interrogation methods produced important results.
Holder said he would not play “hide and seek” with any such documents, but added he was unsure if they exist.