But my view is also that the president has acted wisely in this. As president in wartime, he knows how wounding it would be to engage in this kind of activity right now. But he has also ensured that a process of transparency continue. A full accounting of all of this – by people from both parties with real power to investigate and report (a 9/11 style commission, in other words) would be a natural next step. There is still much we don’t know. It should take its time to get everything right. Justice can be slow as long as it is guaranteed. From the president, some well-chosen words he clearly wrote himself:
“At a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future. The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again.”
Let me repeat the critical two words in that paragraph: Never. Again.
Remember when Bill Clinton got elected and they immediately went for gays in the military and health care. It was too much too soon and the resulting battles seriously damaged his Administration. Going after the CIA now for torture, in the middle of a recession when unity and support in Congress is crucial could be seriously counter-productive,like with full-on guerrilla warfare by entrenched subterranean forces in DC.
Sullivan is correct, the change is coming, slowly, yes. But it is coming.