With President Barack Obama away on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, you might think things would slow down in DC. But after a slow morning, today turned into a big news day. The latest news is Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the Justice Department will begin a preliminary inquiry into the treatment of terrorist suspects. The inquiry could lead to prosecutions. Obama will let Holder decide exactly how to proceed, according to the New York Times. The Center for Constitutional Rights is complaining that the inquiry seems to be limited to CIA employees who went beyond what-John-Yoo-wrote. But it’s not hard to see how the inquiry might snowball. Either way, the White House will try to distance itself from any political consequences of the Holder inquiry by highlighting the Attorney General’s “independence.” Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary, made that much clear today. From the Times:
“Well, as the president has said repeatedly, he thinks that we should be looking forward, not backward,” [Burton] told reporters in Oak Bluffs, Mass., where Mr. Obama is vacationing. “He does agree with the attorney general that anyone who conducted actions that had been sanctioned should not be prosecuted.”
The “he does agree,” part seems to imply that there are some things Holder believes with which the president does not agree. But the “it’s not me, it’s my Attorney General” line is going to be a tough one to hold.