Press Attorney General Eric Holder to Bring Torture Architects to Justice

News & Politics

In spite of President Barack Obama's insistence that the United States "move forward and not backward" on the issue of Bush-era torture policies, Attorney General Eric Holder has recently indicated he may launch an investigation that would call ex-officials to account.

If carried out, Holder's investigation would rupture some toxic political precedents: The intimate relationship that formed between the White House and the Department of Justice during the Bush years would certainly come into question, as would Obama's decidedly non-"change"- oriented approach to detention policies. Perhaps most importantly, Holder's investigation would sanction the criticism and remediation of previous presidents' crimes.

None of this will be easy. Newsweek's Daniel Klaidman notes, launching an investigation "would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform." It would bring Holder face to face with an array of problematic political conundrums.

It would also require a legal team as adept at logistical and linguistic maneuvering as Bush's gaggle of cronies. Holder has already called on his staff to pick 10 candidates for the prosecutor position -- a position that he said will require "gravitas and grit."

Fortunately, he has hinted that pursuing justice will remain distinct from presidential directives."I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he told Newsweek. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

Holder has a unique chance here. Not only can he punish some of our country's most odious criminals; he can also make it clear to future offenders that there is nowhere to run.

But he needs to hear from you. Join the American Civil Liberties Union in its campaign to present evidence to Holder. Help deal out justice to Dick Cheney, Jay Bybee and John Yoo. You can do it here.

Here are the rest of our Take Action Campaigns for the week.

II -- Pressure Obama for a Public Option

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is among the many in support of a public health option, and he has put together an organization designed to mobilize progressive support. allows citizens like you to urge policymakers to vote down any health care legislation that doesn't include a public option.

"Legislation rises and falls on whether the American public is allowed to choose a universally available public option or not," Dean argues. Standing with  Dean, who is a physician, means joining nearly 400,000 others who refuse to wallow in the mires of "middle ground" politicking.

Obama's "urge to compromise," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, "will lead him to negotiate with himself, and give away far too much." It's up to us to see that he doesn't.

III -- Reform Immigration Policies

The U.S.'s immigration policies are tangled, damaging and nonsensical. They shred family ties, cause a whirlpool of wage decreases, deplete the workforce and do nothing to improve national security. Each year, we spend billions of dollars to maintain the broken status quo. It's time for a change.

Obama supports such a change, but only Congress can draft meaningful legislation. It's up to us to make them understand the necessity of reforming immigration policies. Join others at Reform Immigration for America who have already made their voices heard.

IV -- Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Among the most thinly veiled examples of institutionalized homophobia in the United States is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's absurd requirement that gay men and lesbians remain silent about their sexual orientation.

It's outrageous and homophobic to think sexual orientation has some bearing on an individual's ability to perform his/her job. Yet the U.S. continues to maintain this bankrupt policy. Let your representative know that you've had enough. Tell him or her to ditch "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

V -- Stand Up for the Uighurs

For too long, the Chinese government has flagrantly violated the human rights of Uighurs, a Turkic, mainly Muslim, people who make up the majority of the population in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

Among other abuses, China has repeatedly blurred the line between its definitions of "activism" and "terrorism" to repress Uighurs. The country has also invoked "war on terror" rhetoric to justify cruel policies and tirelessly pursued censorship campaigns against Uighurs.

We need to let the Chinese government know that its actions are unacceptable. Help send the message that the abuses must not continue.

VI -- Confirm Sonia Sotomayor

This week marks the beginning of hearings that would cement Sonia Sotomayor's place on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some immature jabs from members of the GOP aside, Sotomayor seems to be a shoo-in.

But it's not over yet. Now's the time to contact your senators and tell them that Sotomayor is an excellent choice for the position. Help quash absurd rumors about "reverse racism" and "personal biases."

VII -- Pass the Employee Free Choice Act

One need only look around to comprehend the ravages of unchecked corporate interests. Unemployment is sky high; poverty is escalating at an alarming rate. An economic system with no checks or cooperative controls has crippled our country.

The only solution can come from the ground up. Join the nearly 1 million people who have voiced their support for the Employee Free Choice Act, a piece of legislation that would enable workers to unionize. Together, we can rein in the floundering economy, one job at a time.

VIII -- Stop Indefinite Detention

Obama has said the White House intends to "proceed very carefully" in its re-evaluation of indefinite-detention policies. Too bad his floundering rhetoric indicates just the opposite. It's time to let the administration know that it must put an end to George W. Bush's egregious violations. The White House must not continue to chip away at universal ideals of compassion.

Join thousands of others who are telling Obama that they oppose indefinite detention, whether through executive order or through congressionally approved legislation. You can do it here.

IX -- End Violence Against Pakistani Champion of Women's Rights

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped because of a crime her brother had allegedly committed. Rather than being silenced by this, she fought back -- testifying against her attackers and becoming one of Pakistan's pre-eminent women's rights advocates.

On June 11, her organization was raided by a power company that claimed she had been stealing electricity. According to witnesses, one member of the company said a Pakistani official had ordered the raid.

It's time to let the Pakistani government know that this type of action cannot stand. Tell them that Mukhtar Mai's voice should be heard.

X -- Help End World Hunger

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have been outspoken in their support for a plan to end world hunger. While Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of alternative food solutions, Clinton, in a recent Huffington Post editorial, said, "attacking hunger at its roots will directly impact whether we meet our foreign policy goals."

Let's hold them to their word. Let Obama know how important the issue is. Join thousands who have told him that solving world hunger should remain high on the list of his political priorities.

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