THE PLANK AUGUST 24, 2009
Today marks two important moments in the debate over torture: the release of a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General regarding interrogation techniques, and also the decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the violation of torture laws in interrogations (as the AP is now reporting). And it seems that Attorney General Eric Holder has chosen prosecutor John Durham to spearhead the investigations.
Durham’s was a name that was thrown around as a front runner last month when the idea was growing some initial steam. At the time, I wrote a short profile of Durham, whom we dubbed the "Good Knight." Over a long career with the Justice Department, Durham has cultivated a reputation as a successful, hard-working, publicity shy, non-partisan outsider, and has been working on a case involving the destruction of CIA videotapes for almost two years--an experience that would make him seem an ideal candidate for this new job. However, his entire career seems to have been preparing him for this monumental case. And while Durham won’t be without his hurdles (check out The Washington Post’s op-ed today from a former CIA general counsel), it’s important to keep in mind the one thing repeated by all of his former colleagues in our conversations, "You underestimate Durham at your own peril."