Conservative Republican David Broder, writing in the Washington Post, wants to whisk it all under the rug. No investigations of Bush era officials. Nothing. Broder just wants to move on. Here’s his advice to Obama:
If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the “torture” policies of the past.
Notice the scare quotes around the word torture. Broder can’t even call it what it is. When you deprive someone of sleep for eleven days, or place a person with arachnophobia in a box with a spider, or waterboard someone 183 times over the course of a month (and all of these things happened), the best he can manage is the phrase “painful coercion”:
Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.
Of course, part of this “dark chapter” in our nation’s history is still being written, and it includes that part in which those members of the media and pundit class who, knowing the extent of Bush era torture, have the gall to advocate that nothing be done about it.
Oh, and so that there’s no mistaking Broder’s position, he doesn’t want President Obama to punt this over to Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, because Holder might actually, well, do his job, and the consequences of that would be almost unthinkable:
Suppose that Obama backs down and Holder or someone else starts hauling Bush administration lawyers and operatives into hearings and courtrooms.
Suppose the investigators decide that the country does not want to see the former president and vice president in the dock. Then underlings pay the price while big shots go free. But at some point, if he is at all a man of honor, George W. Bush would feel bound to say: That was my policy. I was the president. If you want to indict anyone for it, indict me.
Is that where we want to go?
Yes. This is exactly where we want to go. If we are going to be a nation of laws, this is where we have to go. And let’s see if George Bush is that “man of honor” that Broder imagines him to be.