Last night on MSNBC Rachel Maddow highlighted a report from the Wall Street Journal that said that President Bush is unlikely to pardon any officials involved in engineering or executing the Bush administration’s torture program. According to the Wall Street Journal report, the White House believes that the Justice Department’s torture memos give the officials all the legal cover they need.
Maddow’s guest, constitutional legal scholar Jonathan Turley, said that he also believes that Bush is unlikely to pardon his torture officials, but for reasons that have little to do with the torture memos:
TURLEY: What the administration is doing is they know that the people that want him to pardon our torture program is primarily the Democrats, not the Republicans. The Democratic leadership would love to have a pardon so they could go to their supporters and say, “Look, there’s really nothing we could do.”
Well, the Bush administration is calling their bluff. They know that the Democratic leadership will not allow criminal investigations or indictments.
Turley explained that without the pardons, Bush is clearing the way for Democrats to repair the president’s torture legacy. Bush will be “able to say there’s nothing stopping indictments or prosecutions but a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House didn’t think there was any basis for it,” Turley said. Watch it:
But not all of the Bush administration’s torture critics are on the same page. Jack Goldsmith, the individual responsible for withdrawing the torture memos and author of the Terror Presidency, penned an op-ed in today’s Washington Post entitled, “No New Torture Probes.” Goldsmith argues today that rather than initiating criminal investigations or even a bipartisan truth commission, the next administration should simply let the current torture investigations conclude and release their findings:
[The current] investigations were politically necessary, and the Obama administration should let them continue. When they are complete, the administration should disclose the facts and documents (including legal opinions) that can be made public without jeopardizing national security.
He explains that in his view the “danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment.”
As Goldsmith notes, many of the facts related to who engineered Bush’s torture programs are already public. Whether or not Congress initiates new investigations, Bush will likely remain the torture president.
Crooks and Liars has more.