On Not Taking The Kristol Bait

One of the chief intellectual architects of Republican collapse is now claiming that Barack Obama is the natural heir of Dick Cheney. It's the usual bait, and I hope Obama supporters don't take it. Take this nugget of agitprop, when Kristol spins Obama's acknowledgment that until he is fully versed in what the Bush-Cheney administration actually did, he is at the same disadvantage we all are in knowing how to tackle Cheney's lawlessness:

“I think that was pretty good advice, which is I should know what’s going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn’t be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric. So I’ve got no quibble with that particular quote,” said Obama. Usually, presidents pretend their campaign positions are more than “campaign rhetoric.” Not Obama.

So according to Kristol, Obama campaigned on a platform of reforming interrogation without actually finding out specifically what "the program" was already doing? Please. Of course, there's a period of fact-finding and judgment-forming that can only be done once you're in power and can see what has actually been authorized. That's all Obama concedes in the interview. He leaves open prosecution for law-breaking. He just - understandably - wants to avoid any immediate partisan brawl.

The pushback from the torture advocates has been intense these past few days.

They know their days are numbered and that a real assessment of what they've been up to is imminent. I do not favor prosecuting CIA officials who have not been clearly found to have committed war crimes and who were simply following orders they were told by the relevant authorities was legal. I am in favor of exposing the full truth about the last eight years so that the civilians who authorized the US's transformation into a torturing country can be held to account. If in that process of discovery, evidence of authorization of war crimes emerges, the Justice Department will have no option but to prosecute. As Dahlia puts it:

It’s not a witch hunt simply because political actors are under investigation. The process of investigating and prosecuting crimes makes up the bricks and mortar of our prosecutorial system. We don’t immunize drug dealers, pickpockets or car thieves because holding them to account is uncomfortable, difficult or divisive. We don’t protest that “it’s all behind us now” when a bank robber is brought to trial.

Remember when Bill Kristol was in favor of the rule of law? That was when it could be used to justify impeaching a president for perjury in a civil suit. Now it's about prosecuting war crimes, he's for "moving on." There is no principle for this guy. Just party. And whatever works for now.