Mr. Durham, recall, is the special prosecutor appointed in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate allegations that the CIA had illegally destroyed videotapes of CIA detainee interrogations. The prosecutor’s mandate was expanded in 2009 by current Attorney General Eric Holder to look into allegations that CIA officers and contractors had abused and, in some cases, tortured and killed, as many as 101 detainees thought to have been in U.S. custody.
When Mr. Durham was first appointed, the Los Angeles Times called him the “second coming of Patrick Fitzgerald,” reflecting a wish that the Connecticut prosecutor’s investigation would do as much political damage to the Bush administration as the witch-hunting Chicago prosecutor’s had. Encomia for Mr. Durham’s competence and rectitude poured in from all quarters; the liberal New Republic called him “an effective mafia-busting prosecutor” who had “earned a nonpartisan, camera-shy, ‘white-knight’ reputation.”
Mr. Durham, it turned out, was all those things, which is another way of saying he’s the exact opposite of the ambitious, media-obsessed and unscrupulous Mr. Fitzgerald—the man who convicted Scooter Libby of not being the man who leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA identity to the media.
What followed was an investigation that led to one exoneration after another. No criminal charges were filed in the videotape destruction case. In 2011, Mr. Durham concluded that no further investigation was warranted in all but two of the 101 detainee cases.
The last shoe dropped on Aug. 30, when Mr. Holder announced that the final two cases—involving the death of one detainee in Afghanistan and another in Iraq—would be closed once and for all. His statement praised Mr. Durham and his team for conducting an “extraordinarily thorough” review, ranging over “information and matters that were not examined during the Department’s prior reviews.”