President Obama answered the call of the left Tuesday by opening the door for prosecution of the Bush administration lawyers who wrote the so-called “torture memos,” which cleared the way for the CIA to use harsh interrogation methods when questioning suspected terrorists.
But that doesn’t mean those attorneys will end up facing prison sentences any time soon.
Some legal analysts doubt the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder have the stomach for taking on their predecessors. And others question whether the Justice Department would pursue a case that amounts to prosecuting a legal opinion.
“My prediction is you’ll never see prosecutions,” said Doug Burns, a former federal prosecutor. He said Obama was merely backpedaling Tuesday to blunt the political backlash he was facing from the left.
Though the president has said that CIA agents will not be charged for following legal guidelines for interrogations, some Democrats have pushed him to support prosecution of the lawyers who drafted the legal ground for such interrogations. Obama said Tuesday that he will defer to Holder on those potential charges.
But if Holder goes down that road, it will be unprecedented, legal analysts said.