In Obama White House, Justice Trumps CIA
Eric Holder carves a new, powerful role as attorney general
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2009 7:40 AM CDT
Attorney General Eric Holder gestures during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The appointment of a federal prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations exposed a long-running turf war between the intelligence agency and the Department of Justice—and demonstrated the substantial clout of AG Eric Holder, who prevailed in almost every dispute with CIA Director Leon Panetta. The New York Times and Washington Post both chart the push-pull leading up to this week's announcement, which began when Justice released largely unredacted memos authorizing waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Panetta tried and failed to have the memos edited, but thought he'd secured a deal that Justice would not open an investigation. When Newsweek published an interview with Holder that suggested an inquiry was still in the cards, an angry Panetta went to the White House to complain. Those objections came to nothing; President Obama had already decided to give Holder the final say, although he and the AG discussed the repercussions of an investigation several times.