Obama's efforts to draw a line under the torture scandal--if that is what they were--have had the opposite effect. After promising that CIA interrogators would not be prosecuted, and after seeming to deflect calls for a commission to investigate what went on, the president now says that the attorney general must decide whether the officials who designed the policy should face trial. Also, though not actually calling for an investigative commission, he said that if one were somehow to appear, something along the lines of the 9/11 commission would be the right way to go.
It is not an outright U-turn--not by Obama, anyway. Commentators were possibly jumping to conclusions, helped by Rahm Emanuel, when they took the earlier statements to mean no prosecutions of anyone. Obama never actually said that, though what he said did seem to imply it.
Today I felt sorry for poor Robert Gibbs, whose job it was to explain that nothing had really changed. It was an impossible job and he made a hash of it.
During the grilling, NBC's Chuck Todd raised the question I would have asked. If the attorney general needs to review whether policymakers broke the law, on the principle that everybody must be accountable, why promise no prosecutions of interrogators? Are CIA officers above the law? There is a distinction in what you might call ordinary justice, or plain common sense, between the architects and the subordinates, but I don't know that the distinction in law is anything like so clear. "I was just obeying orders" is not regarded as a watertight defense.