News broke over the weekend that US Attorney General Eric Holder may launch a torture investigation, but according to several news sources, the probe will not target top Bush officials who developed the torture regime. That means UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo, the primary legal architect of torture, may escape prosecution in the United States. That also means that Yoo may remain at UC Berkeley indefinitely, because the university has said that it would not attempt to remove him unless he's convicted of a crime. According to the Washington Post, Holder's investigation, if it goes forward, will focus on CIA and other interrogators who abused prisoners beyond what Yoo's legal memos allowed.
If true, then Holder must believe that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by Yoo, including waterboarding, were legal while the Berkeley professor's memos remained in effect - even though many of those techniques have long been considered unlawful under US and international laws. Yoo's torture memos were in effect for part of 2002 and most of 2003, before they were rescinded by succeeding attorneys in the Bush Department of Justice because the legal conclusions were so obviously wrong.
News of the possible probe immediately was met with ridicule by civil libertarians, who have long argued that the architects of torture should be investigated. And, of course, they should. However, one writer and legal blogger, Scott Horton, reported that Holder was contemplating a much wider probe than reported elsewhere and that it would include top Bush officials, presumably including Yoo. It remains to be seen, however, whether Horton's sources are correct, and those of the Post and the New York Times are not.