Gonzales backs DOJ investigation of CIA abuse

Former Vice President Cheney might not agree, but Eric Holder has at least one former Bush official on his side

Published September 1, 2009 9:01PM (EDT)

Former Vice President Cheney says he's offended by Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate certain cases of CIA treatment of detainees that went beyond even the Bush administration's guidelines. Not every one-time member of that administration agrees with him.

In fact, someone who knows a bit about where Holder's coming from supports the move: Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"We worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters about how to deal with terrorists," Gonzales said in an interview with a Washington Times radio program. "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."

Among other things, Gonzales' comments are notable for their accurate description of what's going to happen with this investigation. Many on the right have portrayed the inquiry as much broader than it actually is; in fact, it's going to focus on a limited number of cases of interrogators who crossed the lines the Bush administration laid out for them, and it won't necessarily lead to prosecutions. If this investigation ends with a conclusion that there's reason to proceed, then there'll be a fuller investigation and that will lead to the actual decision on whether or not to prosecute.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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