Turley: 'God help us' if torture only gets a '9/11 commission'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday April 22, 2009

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The recent release of Bush administration torture memos has given rise to calls for prosecution of the Justice Department lawyers who wrote those memos. However, law professor Jonathan Turley believes that this may represent a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the other high Bush administration officials who ordered the torture.

"That's the really strange thing," Turley told MSNBC's David Shuster on Tuesday. "In the last week or so, we've seen an effort to define a potential investigation in terms of the lawyers who wrote these memos. ... A war crime investigation does not look at the people who drove the trains -- they look at the people who told the trains to roll."

"George Bush and Vice President Cheney, the CIA director, the attorney general ... implemented, in full knowledge that it was a war crime, the torture program," Turley emphasized. "The effort to define it in terms of lawyers is something of a Beltway shift. That is, it's setting us up for failure."

According to Turley, Attorney General Eric Holder "needs to appoint a special prosecutor and not limit it as to who committed the alleged war crimes."

"A true war crime investigation would be given to a special prosecutor, who would follow it where it would lead him or her," Turley told Shuster. "And that would most certainly lead him ... or her to the former president or vice president and the people like the CIA director and attorney general who pushed through this program."

"God help us if the only thing we get out of this is a commission modeled on 9/11," Turley commented. "That was a commission that was really made for Washington -- a commission composed of political appointees of both parties that ran interference for those parties -- a commission that insisted at the beginning it would not impose blame on individuals. So it's the ideal Washington commission -- a commission that would investigate without any reprecussions."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Apr. 21, 2009.

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