The DOJ-CIA Videotape Investigation: Morose Thought of the Day

I suppose that it’s a good thing that Michael Mukasey has ordered a criminal probe into the CIA destruction (with White House approval) of the torture videotapes. And I suppose that it’s also a good thing he has appointed someone who seems to be a career, professional, and very hard-headed prosecutor to the job.

But I can’t say that I think it will yield anything.

Why? Well, a really professional investigation will take a long time. More precisely, I can’t expect any indictments until after January 2009. And by then, both David Addington and Alberto Gonzales will be the recipients of blanket pardons from the Dear Leader. I’m also willing to take odds that Cheney will receive one, too.

This does mean that they cannot plead the 5th if they testify, and offers them interesting disincentives to lie (because that would open them up to a perjury charge not covered by the pardon). But my view at this point is that they will not suffer anything for the consequences.

At this stage, the action should lie with the DC Bar Association, which should disbar Addington for life depending upon the findings. At the very least, it should start its own investigation.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.