I think it is safe to say that the CIA torture tape story just hit the big time. Attorney General Mukasey apparently went right past the option of slow-rolling an in-house investigation (does David Addington’s direct line into the AG’s office still connect?) and appointed an outside prosecutor. Better, Mukasey didn’t choose a hack; John Durham has a reputation for taking down big game that ranks up there with Pat Fitzgerald and Elliot Spitzer.
What exactly an “outside prosecutor” does and what degree of independence he has relative to say, Pat Fitzgerald’s investigation remains unclear to me. Any insight about what exactly we can expect from this sort of investigation would be much appreciated.
The administration will certainly hang out a disposable patsy like
Scooter Libby Pfc. Lynndie England CIA division head Jose Rodriguez. If Rodriguez accepts the role of loyal fall guy then it may end there. However, a resulting trial probably wouldn’t finish in time for a Bush pardon, so unless the president pulls an Ernie Fletcher Rodriguez could face good honest jail time. Then there is the question of how many such tapes the CIA really had/has (believe they only taped three interrogations? I have some pets.com shares to sell you). If the fall guy doesn’t fall quietly then things could get interesting.
Marty Lederman: there is nothing “special” or “outside” about Durham’s appointment. The regular eastern VA US Attorney recused himself so Durham was appointed as acting US Attorney for the purposes of this case.