Torture Convictions Would Be a Long Shot

Prosecution possible, but nailing Cheney a legal headache
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 4, 2009 8:34 AM CDT
This file photo shows Bush lawyer Jay Bybee.   (AP Photo, Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – Those calling for Bush administration prosecutions on torture-related grounds may have their way—but whether those in question can actually be convicted is a whole other kettle of fish, Jeffrey Rosen writes in New York. Much of the case would likely hinge on whether authorities believed their own claims in making a case for waterboarding. And appointing a special prosecutor could create headaches for the Justice Department.

“Whatever people say about Cheney, few people think he didn’t believe in his own arguments,” says a law scholar. And the ex-VP would have a number of protection mechanisms on his side, such as withholding executive records and the argument that Congress authorized administration moves. Meanwhile, the “possibilities for clashes between Justice and a special prosecutor are endlessly multiplied,” Rosen writes. Still, public pressure could drive AG Eric Holder to appoint one.