Second Coming of Pat Fitzgerald?
By Mary Jacoby | July 23, 2022 11:38 pm

The New Republic profiles John Durham, the special prosecutor from Connecticut appointed by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the CIA’s destruction of videotapes documenting brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects.

After Attorney General Eric Holder was quoted in Newsweek earlier this month saying he was leaning towards appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush-era interrogations, this Washington Post story by Carrie Johnson named Durham as a possible choice for the job.

Johnson wrote:

“Durham may be under consideration for an expanded mandate, given that he already has reviewed hundreds of sensitive CIA cables and other documents related to treatment of detainees.”

Read a more recent New York Times’s story about Holder’s deliberations here.

Quinnipiac law professor Jeffrey Meyer, a former colleague of Durham, told the New Republic: “Think of him as the second coming of Patrick Fitzgerald”- yet without the publicity hound aspect to him.

To us, the most interesting part of the profile is the unearthing of this blog post from a year and a half ago by Georgetown law professor Marty Lederman, a vocal critic of torture. Lederman is now a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, whose lawyers during the Bush administration produced the legal opinions authorizing torture.

Lederman was highly skeptical of Durham’s appointment, questioning his independence (Durham reports to the Deputy Attorney General in the CIA tapes matter):

But there’s nothing really “outside” about John Durham. He’s a career DOJ prosecutor, the number two official in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut. As the Attorney General explained today (see statement below), the case would ordinarily be handled by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, but that U.S. Attorney requested that his office be recused from the matter “in order to avoid any possible appearance of a conflict with other matters handled by that office.” (Hmm . . . what might that mean? That the investigation deals with whether there was obstruction of justice in cases being prosecuted by the E.D. Va., perhaps?)

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