Andrew McCarthy at NRO has an excellent article explaining that federal prosecutions of Bush administration interrogators are well nigh impossible. He discusses the issue at length with Hugh Hewitt, and Hugh also discusses the issue with Congressman Dan Lungren, who apparently knows a lot more about the relevant torture statutes than our present Attorney General.
Lungren dismantled Attorney General Eric Holder last Thursday by schooling him on the standards required for proving a case of torture. Torture as a federal crime is a specific intent offense, as opposed to a general intent offense. That is, to convict a defendant the prosecution must prove that the defendant must have "the motive or purpose" to commit torture. This is why training our troops on how to resist interrogation by waterboarding them is not a crime: the intent is to train the troops, not torture them.
Eric Holder, incredibly, didn't know this. In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday, he described torture as a general intent offense when it is not. Why didn't Holder bother to do his homework on this extremely important issue? Or did Holder just think he could slip one past Congress?
Hopefully it is the former, because now that Holder knows what the standard is, he knows that the DOJ will never, ever, win a case for torture. Unless the defendants really did intend to torture for torture's sake ( like the Japanese war criminals from World War II who were convicted for waterboarding) no jury will convict. So forget about prosecutions for torture, they ain't gonna happen. If it is the latter, the smackdown he received should be enough to ensure he doesn't try that again.
Obama punted on this issue when he deferred to his AG on the issue of what to do about Bush era officials engaged in or advocating the legality of torture. Now that his AG has been forced to actually understand the damn statute, we can presume that this issue is dead.
If not, bring it on. It is a sure loser for the Dems.