Petering Out

The “torture” controversy is winding down, with the Obama administration letting it be known that the lawyers who wrote memos interpreting Congress’s broad prohibition of “torture” won’t be criminally prosecuted. (Nor will the Congressional Democrats who knew all about the interrogation techniques and endorsed them.) Of course not: the idea that they could convince a court that writing a legal analysis with which Eric Holder disagrees could be a criminal act, or convince a jury to convict, was ludicrous from the beginning. Instead, the administration says it may refer the matter to various state bar associations to see whether their ethics arms might want to impose some penalty on the offending lawyers. That’s a little more like it: it is at least barely possible that some state bar’s ethics committee might be staffed with liberals who would make a politicized decision to impose some sort of discipline. The real purpose, of course, is to discourage lawyers and others from serving in any future Republican administration.

Meanwhile, far from actually believing that the most notorious “torture memo,” written by Jay Bybee and John Yoo in 2002, was a criminal act, the Obama Justice Department has just filed a brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in which is adopts and endorses the Bybee/Yoo thesis. Andy McCarthy has the details. Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that DOJ has adopted the Bybee/Yoo analysis as correct, since the same approach was endorsed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Pierre v. Attorney General, on a 10-3 vote. So the “criminal” policy of the Bush Justice Department is also the law as elucidated by the Third Circuit, en banc, and the policy of the current Department of Justice.

What we’re witnessing here goes far beyond mere hypocrisy. In three months, Barack Obama and Eric Holder have succeeded in politicizing DOJ and bending it to their partisan ends, to the point of threatening their predecessors with baseless criminal prosecution as a form of political harassment.

Most Americans, fortunately, are having none of it. CNN finds that by a 50 percent to 46 percent margin, Americans approve of the use of waterboarding, etc., in interrogating terrorists.

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