Ten Reasons Why A Torture Probe Is More Likely

Even as the Obama Administration remains resolutely opposed to a Truth Commission or major criminal investigation into TortureKampf, the wagon may have already been unhitched. Given the ten developments below, how likely is it that some sort of investigation, chartered with some sort of formal power, isn't launched?

1. Congress is in self-protective mode, with Democrats on both sides of the aisle defending themselves from charges (and some evidence) that they knew everything.

2. The Republican Party now has two buy-ins. One: that "torture" worked (c.f. Dick Cheney's legacy, etc.)  Two: that Democratic leaders sanctioned the techniques that were used, or appeared to, and are now trying to cover this up.

3. A raft of upcoming/ongoing court cases involving as yet undisclosed evidence about torture and rendition. The administration knows that they'll lose some of these cases, and more evidence will come out.

4. The war in Afghanistan and the question of what to do with Guantanamo detainees is vexing the Democrats now; a torture investigation can help them move those debates into more comfortable territory by relitigating the past.

5. The appointment of former JSOC commander in chief Stanley McChrystal to serve as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The guy knows where all the bodies are buried. Literally.

6. The Wilkerson/Duelfer revelations/allegations about Dick Cheney's involvement and the pressure that many "angel"-sided former Bushies face to put the blame squarely on the VP's office.

7. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's book comes out soon.

8. Calls by respected members of the GOP establishment, like Phillip Zeilkow, who want the historical record clarified.

9. Tension between the Democratic Party and the CIA, exacerbated by the Obama administration's release of the OLC memoranda and extended by the debate over the briefings.

10. Legitimate questions about the adequacy of Congressional oversight and about whether the CIA needs to reform its own contributions to the process, too.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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