It looks like the Obama administration will be releasing those Bush-era OLC torture memos after all. Statement here. Good for them. Also this:
In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.
Generally speaking, I think I agree with this — though there might be specific circumstances where prosecution is called for regardless of legal guidance. I can’t honestly say that I base this on any kind of coherent principle, though, and I’m not entirely happy I feel this way. It just seems as if tackling the practical issues involved in figuring out who did what, and under what circumstances, is too vast an undertaking for too small a probable return. So, reluctantly, I think Obama’s decision is probably for the best.
But I’m going to think about this some more before I pretend my opinion is set in stone. In the meantime, feel free to slag away in comments.
UPDATE: The ACLU has all four memos here.