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First 100 days: The torture memos

According to the Washington Post, "Justice Department documents released yesterday offer the fullest account to date of Bush administration interrogation tactics, including previously unacknowledged strategies of slamming a prisoner into a wall and placing an insect near a detainee terrified of bugs. Authorities said they will not prosecute CIA officers who used harsh interrogation techniques with the department's legal blessing. But in a carefully worded statement, they left open the possibility that operatives and higher-level administration officials could face jeopardy if they ventured beyond the boundaries drawn by the Bush lawyers."


Video: The Justice Department released memos from the Bush administration that authorized the CIA to use harsh interrogation methods against suspected terrorists, but the Obama administration said CIA staffers won't be tried for "mistakes of the past."  NBC's Pete Williams reports.

The New York Times: "The release of the documents came after a bitter debate that divided the Obama administration, with the C.I.A. opposing the Justice Department's proposal to air the details of the agency's long-secret program. Fueling the urgency of the discussion was Thursday's court deadline in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the government for the release of the Justice Department memos."

"Together, the four memos give an extraordinarily detailed account of the C.I.A.'s methods and the Justice Department's long struggle, in the face of graphic descriptions of brutal tactics, to square them with international and domestic law. Passages describing forced nudity, the slamming of detainees into walls, prolonged sleep deprivation and the dousing of detainees with water as cold as 41 degrees alternate with elaborate legal arguments concerning the international Convention Against Torture."

The Washington Post editorial page, which doesn't always agree with the Obama administration on foreign policy, says Team Obama "acted courageously and wisely yesterday with its dual actions on interrogation policy. The pair of decisions -- one essentially forgiving government agents who may have committed heinous acts they were told were legal, the other signaling that such acts must never again be condoned by the United States -- struck exactly the right balance." 

But writing in the Wall Street Journal, former Bush CIA director Michael Hayden and former Bush AG Michael Mukasey criticize the release of the memos. "The release of these opinions was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy. Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001."  
 
Meanwhile, "Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration's auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state's pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal reports. "A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a 'senior executive' of Mr. Rattner's investment firm met in 2004 with a politically connected consultant about a finder's fee. Later, the complaint says, the firm received an investment from the state pension fund and paid $1.1 million in fees. The 'senior executive,' not named in the complaint, is Mr. Rattner, according to the person familiar with the matter." Apparently, the Journal says, the Obama administration knew about the pending investigation. 

Forget immigration reform, unless there's a "healthy bipartisan majority."

And is Dean vs. Rahm over? "The feud between Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel appears to be over. Dean told The Hill that he recently had lunch with the White House chief of staff, signaling a thaw in their once icy relationship." "I think that (tension) was always somewhat exaggerated," said Dean during an interview this week with The Hill. "Look, we're both very fierce competitors and very strong-minded people. But I don't think there's a lot of ill will between myself and Rahm Emanuel."