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Get Cheney: Why Any Torture Investigation Must Target the Former VP

As Cheney told ABC News: "I was aware of the program ... and involved in helping get the process cleared ... I supported it."
 
 
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Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the chief critic of executive excess and wrongdoing in the Senate during recent Republican and Democratic administrations, wants Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a prosecutor to investigate the CIA's harsh interrogation program.

But Feingold wants Holder to do it right.

The chair of the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee is concerned that the appointment of a prosecutor by Holder -- which now seems increasingly likely -- come with a charge by the attorney general "to focus on holding accountable the architects of the CIA's interrogation program."

In a letter to Holder, Feingold, who also sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

Recent news stories indicate that you have reviewed the highly classified 2004 CIA Inspector General report on the CIA's interrogation program, and that as a result you are considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate individuals who may have gone beyond the legal authorization for that program provided by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice. I write to encourage you to do so, but also to urge you to focus on holding accountable the architects of the CIA's interrogation program. While allegations that individuals may have even gone beyond what was justified by those now-public OLC memos are extremely disturbing, we should not lose sight of the fact that the program itself –- as authorized –- was illegal, not to mention immoral and unwise.

As I said in a letter to President Obama in April, the OLC documents make clear that the details of this program were authorized at the highest levels of government, which is where the need for accountability is most acute. Those who developed, authorized and provided legal justification for the interrogations should be held responsible.

I understand this is a difficult decision for you, and I want to assure you that you will have my full support if you take this important step in furtherance of the rule of law.

This is an essential message, and an essential step in the process.

Official Washington does not like accountability.

John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent.