On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said on the ABC News program “This Week” that “those who devised policy” also “should not be prosecuted.” But administration officials said Monday that Mr. Emanuel had meant the officials who ordered the policies carried out, not the lawyers who provided the legal rationale.
And while Mr. Obama vowed not to prosecute C.I.A. officers for acting on legal advice, on Monday aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques.
It's going to be an interesting three years for those of us on the Constitutional Left. We need to keep in mind that Obama is a strategist who plays long ball, and as such we have to be aware that there are more pressing priorities at the moment than accountability for the Bush Administration. We've all seen the graphs comparing this downturn with historical recessions - the graphs where we're giving the Great Depression a run for its money in GDP and employment terms. This is a legitimate global crisis, and it must be fully addressed before taking on anything that might cause partisan gridlock. Heck, just passing a Stimulus Plan that made macroeconomic sense was a process rife with partisanship. Imagine trying to get those three Senate votes after prosecuting George W. Bush as a war criminal?
The same applies to Don't Ask Don't Tell, by the way. We have serious, huge legislation to pass, and then we can hit the partisan stuff.