Justice for War Criminals?

Satyam Khanna rounds up the somewhat contradictory statements from Barack Obama and his appointees as to whether or not there should be any kind of prosecutions or investigations for the serious crimes committed during the Bush years. Obama leaves the door open to investigations but his most recent statement places emphasis on a desire to “move forward” and the fact that he doesn’t want intelligence operatives to “suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.”

The latter concern strikes me as reasonable enough. But I don’t think the solution is just to let everyone get away without accountability. There wasn’t enough accountability after Watergate and that helped lead to the lack fo accountability around Iran-Contra. Which, in turn, helped get us where we are today. You could set up a commission or an investigator with specific authorization to offer immunity to anyone below the highest tiers of government in exchange for cooperation. Failure to do anything will just be read as a concession that “serious” people of both parties actually favor torture, arbitrary detention, and illegal surveillance but the “serious” Democrats are too hypocritical to admit it.