On the heels of Thomas Kean’s and Lee Hamilton’s scathing op-ed in today’s New York Times, Michael Mukasey announced that a criminal investigation into the CIA’s destruction of tapes of agents torturing Al Qaeda operatives.
Mr. Mukasey assigned an outside investigator, a federal prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the criminal inquiry in tandem with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecutor, John H. Durham, is likely empanel a grand jury to hear testimony to determine whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges, which could include obstruction of justice.
It’s beginning to smell like old times — 1973-74, to be specific. Sort of. As Jonathan Turley pointed out on Countdown this evening, Durham reports to Mukasey, whose Justice Department is most likely involved. The choice of Durham is like a law firm hiring a lawyer from one of its out-of-town offices to investigate the firm.
Well, there still might be a James McCord in this mess — someone unwilling to take the fall and stay quiet. McCord triggered the Watergate scandal in its fullness when he wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica in March, 1973. From that point, it was just a matter of time.
And time has sped up these past 35 years. Who knows what 2008 will look like? There’s time for many things to happen. Lame duck Andrew Johnson, after all, was impeached in March of his last full year in office.