Friday, April 24, 2009

A steady descent into the third world

Wesley Pruden wades in with a right-on assessment of the President's flip flop on weather or not to prosecute Bush administration officials over the issue of supposed torture of Gitmo detainees. Obama has typically said one thing to one audience and something else to another. This indecision can only promote distrust and apprehension among government officials. Who knows who will be next in Obama's on again, off again approach to governance. As we know, Barry is quite happy to throw anyone under the bus.


A steady descent into the third world
By Wesley Pruden

Opening a can of worms always tempts a mischief-maker, but it's risky business. That can of worms might turn out to be a can of snakes, like Barack Obama's latest gift to the nation.

The president's on-again, off-again, maybe-he-will and maybe-he-won't decision to punish someone who loosened tongues of Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo suddenly threatens not only the CIA interrogators and Justice Department lawyers, but even members of Congress. Maybe it won't stop there: if the lawyers who offered legal opinions are at risk of punishment for their legal advice, why not the members of Congress who knew what was going on? Why not the secretaries who typed up the transcripts? Why not the interns who fetched the coffee? All were accessories either before or after the fact.

We're on unfamiliar ground now. No president before has sought to punish his predecessor for policy decisions, no matter how wrong or wrong-headed. Lyndon B. Johnson's management of the Vietnam War was often ham-handed, as anyone who was there could tell you, and his policy makers sometimes verged on criminal incompetence. But Richard Nixon was never tempted to send LBJ or any of those presidential acolytes to prison. Abraham Lincoln, by his lights, would have had ample opportunity to hang Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but even the rabid Republicans who survived the assassination stopped short of putting Davis in the dock, finally releasing him from imprisonment at Fort Monroe when judgment overcame lust for revenge. Lee was never touched.