Why does John Rizzo still have a job in the Obama administration?

One of my favorite bloggers is Marcy Wheeler, who writes as Emptywheel at FiredogLake.com.  Marcy and her team did outstanding work covering the Scooter Libby trial, among other things.  She is the author of  “Anatomy of Deceit” and recently won the 2009 Hillman Award for blogging.

So when Marcy turns her attention to  the “Dirty Thirteen” of torture I pay close attention.  Most of the names on the list are the usual suspects like Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, Dick Cheney and GWB.  And most of them are no longer employed by the U.S. government.

The exceptions are Jay Bybee and John Rizzo. 

There are petitions circulating in the blogosphere calling for the impeachment of Jay Bybee and his removal from office as Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Leahy and Conyers seem to be paying attention to Jay Bybee and there may well be hearings and investigations coming.

But what about John Rizzo?  He’s still ensconced in  his cushy post as acting general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency!  This puts him in the position of whispering in the ear of CIA Chief Leon Panetta in his confrontation with Nancy Pelosi over CIA briefings.  Do you think he might have an axe to grind?  Do you think he might be operating in CYA mode?

Here’s what Marcy has to say about why  Rizzo’s role in the torture memos. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/05/18/torture/index2.html

As deputy general counsel and then acting general counsel for the CIA, John Rizzo’s name appears on all of the known OLC opinions on torture for the CIA. For the Bybee Two memo, Rizzo provided a number of factually contested pieces of information to OLC — notably, that Abu Zubaydah was uncooperative and physically and mentally fit enough to withstand waterboarding and other enhanced techniques. In addition, Rizzo provided a description of waterboarding using one standard, while the OLC opinion described a more moderate standard. Significantly, the description of waterboarding submitted to OLC came from the Defense Department, even though NSC had excluded DOD from discussions on the memo. Along with the description of waterboarding and other techniques, Rizzo also provided a document that called enhanced methods “torture” and deemed them unreliable — yet even with this warning, Rizzo still advocated for the CIA to get permission to use those techniques.

Rizzo’s fingerprints are all over the torture justifications produced by the Bush administration.  He’s got to go.  Sooner rather than later.

There is no reason for him to still have a job at the CIA, much less one that is so high profile.  Why doesn’t Panetta just fire him and appoint someone who does not bear the taint of justifying torture?

I would nominate Marcy Wheeler, if I could.

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