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Will Attorney General Eric Holder's Torture Probe Let Senior Bush Officials Off the Hook?

Anti-torture lawyers argue that any investigation must target the whole torture system, including its legal architects and those who gave the orders.

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As for the position taken by Republicans and some Democrats, including Obama administration officials, that prosecutions would harm the U.S. reputation globally and threaten national security, Jaffer shoots back:

As damaging as the torture program itself is the perception -- the accurate perception -- that the United States government has thus far declined to hold anybody accountable for it. And I think that that impunity, or the perception that the United States is endorsing impunity is much more damaging to the standing of the United States abroad than any disclosure or further disclosure about the CIA’s torture program could be.

Jaffer’s comments echo those of Greenwald:

Prosecuting only obscure “rogue” interrogators while immunizing powerful, high-level officials would not be an act of courage but of cowardice.  It would not strengthen the rule of law but would pervert it further.  And rather than deter future lawbreaking, it would signal -- yet again -- that our most powerful political officials are free to break the law with impunity.

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at