Gonzales’ comments came during an interview with The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. He said the Bush administration ”worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters about how to deal with terrorists,” and “if people go beyond that, I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror. ”
“I’ve talked to friends of mine in the CIA, and there is a great deal of concern,” Gonzales said, adding, “People are scared about taking actions that might be legal but in any way controversial. They’re just not going to do it.” Read The Times’ article here.
He added the possible offenses should be investigated despite the potential “chilling effect” the probe could have on future CIA interrogation sessions, Reuters reported. Gonzales said he believes Holder is only concerned about investigating officials who went beyond approved techniques.
Holder has come under fire from former Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservatives for re-opening an investigation that has been closed by the Bush administration. Some liberals, meantime, have also complained that Holder’s focus on CIA interrogators doesn’t hold accountable the Bush administration officials who authorized brutal techniques such as waterboarding, which Holder and Obama have both called torture.
Cheney on Sunday said President Obama should be calling the shots on the interrogation matter and not leave the decision to a “political appointee” such as Holder. Click here to read our previous report.
But Gonzales, who resigned amid criticism he wasn’t independent enough of the Bush White House, endorsed Holder’s authority. ”As chief prosecutor of the United States, he should make the decision on his own, based on the facts, then inform the White House,” Gonzales said, according to Reuters. Gonzeles didn’t head the DOJ at the time the interrogation methods were authorized and the original CIA probe closed, but he was privvy to information about the methods as White House counsel.
Gonzales also said Holder appears concerned with the “one percent of actors” who went beyond Department of Justice guidelines, The Times reported. He added that the other 99 percent “are heroes and should be treated like heroes for the most part, not criminals.”