Well, of course he does. But the idea that this is about vengeance is a piece of fantasy. Or as Hilzoy nicely puts it,

Who died and made David Broder Sigmund Freud?

If I had one belief in politics, it would be that the freedoms secured by the modern West are worth fighting for. Absolutely central to those freedoms is barring the executive branch from torturing people. No power is more fatal to freedom and the rule of law than torture. It is like Tolkien's ring: no society remains free, if its rulers use it. Its power is banned because it is a solvent to the rule of law, the establishment of truth, and the limits of government. For an administration to secretly and illegally unleash this weapon - against citizens and non-citizens alike - and to demand that it not be subsequently called to account, that it be allowed to get away with it under some absurd notion that it's too divisive to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes is and was an outrage. Punishing those responsible for war crimes is not "scapegoating". You know what scapegoating is? It's throwing Lynndie England in jail for following orders given by George W. Bush, while leaving him to the luxury of a Texan suburb.

The precedent of a torturing American president must be reversed. That means it cannot be allowed to stand.

There is no way the American experiment can continue while legal and historical precedent gives the president the inherent authority to torture. It is the undoing of the core idea of the founding - protection against arbitrary, lawless, cruel and despotic rule. And the impact on the entire world of America allowing this to stand would be profound. The world looks here for moral leadership. Those who endure real political oppression, imprisonment, torture and abuse at the hands of despots look to America for leadership, for guidance, for hope. If America - America - discovers that its own president has illegally tortured and decides that it simply won't do anything about it, that it doesn't matter, that it's too polarizing to restore the rule of law ... then what hope do those people have? To whom will they look when they fight far more pervasive tyranny, buttressed by the same absolute power to coerce the truth and break the human soul?

We don't want vengeance.  We want America back. And we are going to fight on and on until we get it back.

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