It's official: No U.S. prosecution of Bush officials


Bad news for anyone hoping that President Obama might still be open to the possibility of prosecution of high-level Bush officials: It ain't gonna happen.

That much was close to being certain before the torture memos were released Thursday. But the statement from Obama released with those shocking memos included this sentence: "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."

By singling out CIA interrogators to assure them they will not be subject to federal prosecution, I thought perhaps he was leaving room for future prosecution of higher ups. Given that he released such explosive materials almost without redactions, I thought perhaps he might allow himself to be influenced by shifting popular sentiment.

Nope: Obama's right-hand man, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, explicitly rejected that possibility this morning on ABC's This Week. Emanuel said that the president believes Bush officials "should not be prosecuted either and that's not the place that we go." Not that that should surprise anyone: Obama said as much from almost his first day in office, when he told reporters he wasn't interested in a proposed Capitol Hill "truth commission."

That commission, of course, still hasn't happened, as our elected representatives reach across the aisle to block any prosecution suggestions.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: "I think it would be disaster to go back and try to prosecute a lawyer for giving legal advice that you disagreed with to a former president."

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri: "I don't think we want to look in the rearview mirror."

It ain't gonna happen.