David Broder is afraid of terrorism prosecutions because of the INSANE MEGA VENGEANCE that’s motivating the whole shebang.
But now Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more — the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps — or, at least, careers and reputations.
Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability — and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance.
Broder demonstrates just how worthy this is by pointing out other times that people were mad about things, and how proposed solutions to those instance of outrage were bad ideas, because nothing says “I really thought about this” like convenient and inapplicable analogies. But really, the reason that this is vengeance, and such a terrible idea, is that the Bush administration followed the time-honored tradition of breaking the law in a way that was proper and well-considered, which is why we let people off for highly contrived multi-hour bank heists – after all, they discussed them at length.
But having vowed to end the practices, Obama should use all the influence of his office to stop the retroactive search for scapegoats.
This is not another Sept. 11 situation, when nearly 3,000 Americans were killed. We had to investigate the flawed performances and gaps in the system and make the necessary repairs to reduce the chances of a deadly repetition.
The memos on torture represented a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places — the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department — by the proper officials.
Well, that assuages my need to yell at the heavens in a bloodthirsty rage. After all, if the people who committed a crime debated the crime among the people who were going to commit the crime at length, really, no crime was committed at all. It’s like they actually did society a favor; after all, we can always stop torturing people, but we’ll never get the chance back for respectful, considered debate.
Ergo, when I call David Broder a dickfaced soulless fuckhead shilling for the worst of “proper” society’s instincts, I do so after having consulted with literally dozens of people, having debated for hours the extent and nature of his fuckheadery as a policy matter. Fucking cockbag asshole. (This is all okay, right? Internally well-debated!)