DOJ Launches a Criminal Probe into Torture Tapes

So says AP’s Matt Apuzzo:

"The Department’s National Security Division has recommended, and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter, and I have taken steps to begin that investigation," Mukasey said in a statement released Wednesday.

Mukasey named John Durham, a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to oversee the case.

Anyone know anything about John Durham?

Update: A profile on Durham here:

John H. Durham looked impatient, distracted and, odd as it might seem in the circumstance, privately amused by the spectacle of it all – which is to say, he looked pretty much like he usually looks.

He was in the cavernous new federal courthouse, off to the side of the podium, pinned down by reporters. Heavier hitters in law enforcement – drawn from their offices like moths to television lights – were looking serious and trying not to embarrass themselves while taking questions about Durham’s newest case. It involves nothing less than systemic corruption of an FBI office.

That Durham could have better explained his own case to the press is not to suggest that he is retiring. He is not. In a courtroom, prosecuting a defendant, he sometimes looks ready lunge at defense lawyers – if a 50-year-old lawyer trapped 16 hours a day in a cramped office can still lunge. He’ll clinch with anyone, anywhere. One year in Connecticut, as an assistant U.S. attorney, he put a third of New England’s mafia in jail. He has never lost a case.


"He’s obviously a very fierce competitor," Cardinale said. "But he’s not a zealot. And he does it by the rules. He is very professional. He is courteous. I’ve been up against them all over the country and I’d put him in the top echelon of federal prosecutors. He’s such a decent guy you can’t hate him. That can make it hard to get motivated."

The view from within law enforcement is even less complicated.

"There is no more principled, there is no more better living, there is no finer person that I know of or have encountered in my life," said Richard Farley, a former assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Haven division. [my emphasis]

He certainly doesn’t look like a pushover. And given that he’s taken on the FBI, he knows how to go after Federal agencies.

19 replies
  1. bigbrother says:

    Hi Marcy just saw this at TPM…fits your thred this morning. Nice to see things starting to gel. Maybe congress will see the tide and initiate Impeachment. Keep up your efforts a lot of folks are starting to pay attention. Thank you.

  2. mainsailset says:

    Yikes, if this piece from 1/01 is a taste, he could be the right guy…..-28-01.htm

    Love the quotes..”He has never lost a case…he’ll clinch with anyone, anywhere….not political…appointed by Janet Reno…”

  3. Neil says:

    But will John Durham subpoena Bush and Cheney if the facts take him there?

    I wonder if this is better for Rodriguez and Bennett… or worse.

  4. phred says:

    If Mukasey keeps this up, I might take back all the awful things I said about him during the confirmation process. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I have the opportunity to eat my words…

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, Chuckey Schumer is not stupid. And this looks pretty stinky pretty quickly. I can imagine Mukasey is none too fond of BushCo ignoring one after another Federal Judge’s orders to keep the evidence.

      Interesting point is that Mukasey said the recommendation came from NSD–from Wainstein.

  5. emptywheel says:

    I look forward to hearing how Bennett spins this for his guy. With a criminal investigation, the stakes will be higher for Rodriguez to bring others down.

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    I this the John Durham?

    “Durham, a well renowned federal prosecutor was hand picked in 1998 by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate allegations that, for decades, FBI agents and police officers had been compromised by the mob. Durham soon discovered that FBI Special Agent John Connelly had assisted the mob in at least three murders. Durham successfully prosecuted these cases and earned praise from his colleagues for his integrity and perfectionism.

    After gangs took over the streets of Hartford in the early 1990, Durham was appointed to a joint Federal, State and local gang task force. As supervising prosecutor for the Federal Northern Violent Crimes Task Force, Durham oversaw numerous federal investigations and prosecutions, crippling the gangs. At various different times Hartford Police Officer Robert Lawlor worked on this task force.”

    • houndcat says:

      Yes. Same guy.

      I used to practice criminal law in New Haven. Never did much federal, but I certainly was aware of Durham’s reputation. Never heard anyone speak anything but highly of him. The New Haven lawyers quoted in the article in Empty Wheel’s update do not dole out such praise liberally.

      I think he’s the real deal.

  7. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Investigation or damage control. If it is real then Holy Joe and his
    roomie may not be speaking anymore. Watch Holy Joe.

  8. BayStateLibrul says:

    “I will not comment on the CIA tapes until the investigation is over or until I am impeached”
    future comment of George Bush

  9. LS says:

    Does it mean that we’ll learn nothing new for years…or will info come out? Does Congress have access to material during the investigation?

    • Neil says:

      If Durham is as discplined as Fitz, we won’t be hearing leaks from his office, just news about matters of public record, subpeonas, indictments, pleadings and investigative journalists who wear down their gum shoe… McClatchy.

    • emptywheel says:

      Nothing will come out for some time. I would expect the Congressional committees to consult Durham before they offer anyone immunity (at least I hope they’d do so). That said, they figured out this should go criminal pretty quickly, so it may be that the evidence leads quickly to something. Mukasey sure would like early proof he isn’t bought and paid by Bush.

  10. Neil says:

    Talking about Fitz, he’s been on the stand in a case of a federal marshall leaking information about an informant to the mob boss the informant was informing on. It sounds like a page right out of The Departed.

    Anyway, in this pre-trial hearing, the defense attorney wanted his client’s statements struck as inadmissable becuase, he argued, Fitz’s questioning of the agent in FBI offices was constructive arrest without proper Mirandizing.

    Who? would believe Fitz would not have said all the right things to preserve the admissability of the defendent’s statements?

  11. LabDancer says:

    Ms E Wheel & disciples: I wish to express my gratitude for your kind forebearance in leaving to me – the resident paisan if you will [I expect bmaz might be able to claim the same] to point out the obvious.

    Durham … New England baseball …

    Welcome to the Show, Bull Durham.

  12. MrMurder says:

    Nothing to this point has convinced any rational being that a move starting at Bush’s hands is entierly honest.

    Ditto the DoJ.

    However, the thing that Fitzmas brought about was a fraying crack through the foundation of the OVP, Bush’s boss man.

    Addington’s name came up frequently in the tape burnings talks among those who held scrutiny to the event…

    This could be the breakway strategery of Bushco. as a way to try and save his failed legacy, or the AG himself could be undertaking self preservation as well…

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