- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is considering opening a criminal investigation into Bush administration officials involved in aggressive interrogation tactics that critics consider torture, a Justice Department official told The Washington Times.

Such considerations have reached a point beyond the attorney general’s previous public acknowledgment that such a probe is a possibility. A final decision is likely “in the next several weeks,” said the Justice Department source who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to disclose internal deliberations.

Condemnations of such an investigation came quickly Sunday from Republicans.

“The question is, is do we want America’s image harmed more by dragging this out further and further?” Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We don’t want to give the terrorists and the radical Islamic extremists more tools and bullets to shoot against us and help their recruiting in this ongoing struggle we’re in,” said Mr. McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and has consistently criticized U.S. abuse of detainees in the war on terrorism.

That the attorney general is considering such an investigation was initially reported Saturday evening by Newsweek magazine.

“As the Attorney General has stated on numerous occasions, the Department of Justice will follow the facts and the law with respect to any matter,” Justice spokesman Matt Miller said. “We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry. As the Attorney General has made clear, it would be unfair to prosecute any official who acted in good faith based on legal guidance from the Justice Department.”

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