The Wall Street Journal uncritically (and unsurprisingly) runs this rather idiotic op-ed from former CIA official Herbert Meyer:
By authorizing Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether a full criminal investigation of CIA employees and contractors is warranted for the manner in which they interrogated captured terrorists, the President has thrown his power and support behind those far-left ideologues
Indeed, Obama has, by instructing his Justice Department to enforce the law, thrown his power behind those dreaded far-left ideologues. Remember when the GOP was the “law and order” party? Now they’re the Two Society Party: one, for our Leadership Caste, is utterly without law, restraint, or control. Do whatever you want. The other, for everyone else: unremitting and inflexible enforcement of the fullest possible extent of the law for even the most minor infractions. In America, you see, it’s critically important to be born well. Anybody else: go fuck yourself.
At any rate, these interrogators, even if and when they did break the laws, were only doing so with the best of intentions:
[they’d rather suffer torture than] be thought of as anything other than honorable patriots doing their best, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to protect our country from its enemies
I see. That is a compelling and well-reasoned defense. So torturing KSM some 180 times inside of a month was indeed some kind of extraordinary, ticking time-bomb type circumstance. Over a month. The United States barely escaped disolution by torturing this man repeatedly over the course of a month. Said torture, of course, providing no actionable intelligence whatever. But, somehow, that Saved America. Of course, we’re meant to forget that the CIA’s own inspector general has reported:
there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe
So neither safe nor effective. In fact, we got the only useful information from seized computers and voluntary statements. Everything gotten under torture was, apparently, either wrong or already known. Big surprise there.
But Meyer closes with a point we actually agree on:
By launching this latest attack on the CIA, the President has done more than merely throw a bone to his base. He has removed all remaining doubt about how the US now plans to confront the global threat of radical Islam.
Indeed, we plan to confront radical Islam by outreach, by education, and, when force is required, by following our own longstanding legal and military doctrines to the fullest extent possible.
And, lest we follow Cheney down the “only following orders” and “it’s not their fault, it’s not their fault, it’s not their fault!” rabbit hole, let’s remind ourselves of this particular outcome of our own Nuremberg Trials, a result of a defense so utterly discounted that it’s since become known as “The Nuremberg Defense”:
“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”