United States Attorney General Eric Holder has launched an investigation into the abuse of prisoners by CIA agents and contractors but not of top Bush administration officials -- including Berkeley law professor John Yoo -- who authorized torture. The Obama Justice Department investigation is reminiscent of a Bush-era probe that resulted in the conviction of low-level guards at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison but ignored high-ranking officials who Ok'd the abuse of prisoners there.
The new investigation will focus on interrogators who went beyond what Yoo authorized in his infamous torture memos. As a result, Holder is tacitly saying that Yoo's work, which included legalizing harsh interrogation techniques that are illegal under US and international law, was lawful. Several top Democratic Congressional leaders have already criticized Holder's decision to exclude Yoo and other Bush officials from the probe while still praising the attorney general for opening an investigation.
Since Yoo apparently will not be targeted by the Justice Department, he likely will be able to keep his post at Berkeley's Boalt School of Law - unless the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which granted him his law license, decides to open its own inquiry into whether he violated established legal ethics. The bar is expected to look into the matter after a long-awaited internal examination of Yoo's ethical conduct by the Justice Department is finally released. Yoo also could be indicted on war crimes charges by a Spanish judge - but it's unclear whether UC Berkeley would take that action seriously.