Former Bush administration counselor and CBS News Analyst Dan Bartlett told The Early Show this morning that Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation into CIA interrogation practices will "pull the rug out from under" CIA agents currently in the field and that any criminal prosecution would have a "chilling effect" on CIA work.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The Justice Department investigation is in response to a recently declassified 2004 report on the treatment of terrorism suspects after September 11th. The report says that CIA interrogators threatened to kill September 11th suspect Khalid Sheik Mohammed's children if there were any other attacks on the United States, says CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr. Other detainees were threatened with a power drill and a gun and one detainee was beaten with a flashlight by a CIA contractor. The detainee later died in prison.
Bartlett says the CIA should be held accountable for its processes, but believes the 2004 investigation took care of that. He says an additional investigation five years after the fact will cause a "political firestorm" that President Obama will not want to deal with.
The document was made public yesterday following an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. Holder has appointed John Durham, a Justice Department prosecutor, to determine whether or not any laws were broken during the interrogations.
Read the full Inspector General's report>
"I don't think that the attorney general had much choice, politically anyway, but to take this step and launch this criminal investigation," writes CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "And even the CIA itself acknowledges that some of its agents, current and former, went beyond legal limits in interrogation. The question is whether crimes were committed and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
"This is just an initial step," Cohen adds. "Just because there is now a prosecutor doesn't guarantee we'll see any CIA trials and certainly doesn't ensure any convictions. All of the problems that existed before - problems with classified information and inadmissible evidence - still remain."
Bartlett sees the investigation, which is narrow in scope now, as a "slippery slope" to a more widespread look at the CIA. President Obama has said that he does not want to prosecute the former Bush administration officials who created the interrogation policies. But Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has added that the Attorney General's investigation into the legality of the interrogations is independent of the administration.
Read more of CBSNews.com's coverage of the CIA report:
CIA Threatened to Kill Suspect's Children
Did CIA Violate Torture Law?
10 Things About the CIA's Bad Day
Holder Taps Prosecutor to Probe CIA Abuses
Unplugged: Uncovering CIA Interrogations
W.H.: CIA Not Out of Interrogation Biz
New Unit Will Question Key Terror Suspects
Panetta Defends CIA in E-Mail to Agency
Dems Laud, Republicans Slam CIA Interrogation News
Expert: CIA Techniques Were Torture