Given that background, let’s suppose the investigation Holder has ordered results in indictments of intelligence professionals who participated in these gruesome torture sessions. It would be a travesty to prosecute low-level CIA officers or even contractors without going after the Justice Department lawyers whose legal opinions they acted on — and even Bush and Cheney, who pressed for those opinions. Moreover, prosecutors are ethically obliged to weigh the likelihood of conviction before bringing a prosecution and getting a jury to send a CIA agent to jail for threatening an Al Qaeda terrorist. Well, good luck with that one.
Let Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and spokesmen for the activist group Moveon.org keep demanding that Bush and Cheney be “held accountable” if they wish. But let’s hope Obama and his attorney general understand that prosecuting a president and vice president for policies they believed were crucial to national security — however wrongheaded, vicious and destructive — would be a divisive political disaster…
We need to get all the facts on torture through a thorough, bipartisan inquiry.
And then we need to move on, resolved never to repeat such reprehensible conduct.