[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] is still considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture during the Bush administration, Newsweek reported [text] Saturday. Despite pressure from the White House [official website] to "look forward, not backwards" with regard to Bush-era interrogation tactics [JURIST news archive], Holder has reportedly requested a list of ten candidates, five from within the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] and five from outside the agency. According to the report, the person selected, if anyone is selected at all, must have "gravitas and grit." DOJ sources indicated to Newsweek that Holder is aware of the politically charged, and thus delicate, nature of a possible investigation but feels compelled to investigate both because the legal authorizations for the interrogation techniques were themselves questionable and because some interrogators went beyond what was authorized. A final decision is expected to be announced within the next few weeks.
In April, Democratic members of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] sent Holder a letter urging him to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of torture [press release and letter text; JURIST report] against Bush administration officials. Earlier in April, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile] had reiterated his calls for a non-partisan truth commission [JURIST report] to investigate Bush administration officials responsible for authorizing certain interrogation techniques. Also in April, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] released a report [text; JURIST report] by the DOJ indicating that former attorney general John Ashcroft and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in 2002 approved the use of waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques used by CIA agents against Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] detainees. The report supports many of the conclusions of a November Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) [official website] report [text, PDF; JURIST report] detailing the extent of top Bush administration officials' involvement in implementing the techniques, which was declassified [JURIST report] in April 2009. Calls for an independent investigation of Bush administration interrogation policies intensified after the Obama administration released four top secret memos [JURIST report] outlining the legal rationale behind controversial techniques.