Criminalizing Conservatism

Many liberals don’t just want to defeat conservatives at the polls, they want to send them to jail. Toward that end, they have sometimes tried to criminalize what are essentially policy differences. President Obama hinted at another step in that direction when he said today that he is open to the idea of bringing criminal charges against the Justice Department lawyers who wrote opinions to the effect that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods could legally be used on al Qaeda detainees. Obama said the question was a complicated one, and the decision will ultimately be made by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The idea of prosecuting a lawyer because a wrote a legal analysis with which the current Attorney General disagrees is so outrageous that I can’t believe it would be seriously considered. Still, President Obama and his party may achieve another objective by publicly making this kind of threat: deterring Republicans from serving in public life. For many Republicans considering whether to accept an appointment to government office, the prospect that they may be subjected to criminal prosecution if the next administration is Democratic could well tip the balance in favor of remaining in private life.

ONE MORE THING: Is Obama also “open to” criminal investigation and prosecution of the members of the House and Senate leadership and Intelligence committees who were repeatedly briefed on the interrogation tactics that were used by the CIA?

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