Kristol Now Thinks Torture Debate Is ‘Healthy’ If Democrats Are Also The Focus

Many conservatives have expressed outrage that President Obama earlier this month released four-Bush era Office of Legal Counsel memos that detail the Bush administration’s legal justification for torture. Not only has the right criticized Obama for releasing the memos, but it has succumbed to defending the use of torture and argued vigorously that no official investigations should ensue.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has been leading the charge lately on Fox News:

— “[Releasing the memos] is a pander to the left. I think it’s really pathetic for an American president to do that, and to disavow, in effect, the good faith efforts of a previous administration to protect us in ways that I think were entirely appropriate.” [4/16/09, Special Report]

— “To release these memos and to create what’s now going to be weeks, months, years of lawsuits and investigations — I mean, it’s really a disgrace.” [4/19/09, Fox News Sunday]

— “The idea that we’re going back and even raising the possibility of criminal prosecution is so appalling that it renders me almost speechless.” [4/21/09, Special Report]

However, last night on Fox, Kristol pulled an about face, saying that any debate into the matter would be “healthy.” Why? Because he wants to include the Clinton administration:

KRISTOL: I hope that debate goes to the whole, not just the last eight year, but the last 16 years. Let’s discuss the Clinton administration, which had renditions, sent people they captured to places where they were treated. […] But let’s have a big debate about whether the Bush administration acted properly or not, and whether the Clinton administration acted properly or not, and how to act going forward in fighting this war on terror. I think it’s a healthy debate.

Watch a video compilation of Kristol’s evolution:

Later in the segment, when Brett Baier appeared to recognize his change of heart, Kristol was forced to revert back to his old self. “You think it’s good for the country to shine the light?” Baier asked. “No. …I would much prefer that we fight this war the way we fight usual wars, with keeping secrets secret,” Kristol replied.