What Else Is Out There?
Dahlia Lithwick is not a crazy DFH blogger or an Obama antagonist. She's a legal analyst and she's as confused as the rest of us as to just what the administration is up to with these positions on the torture regime:
Having inherited an undifferentiated mass of legal "war on terror" doctrine from the Bush administration's constitutional chop shop, President Obama finds himself in the position of being Bush's Secret-Keeper. Picking its way warily through a minefield of secrecy and privacy claims, the Obama administration this week released nine formerly classified legal opinions produced in the Office of Legal Counsel (while holding back others that are being sought) and brokered a deal whereby Karl Rove and Harriet Miers will finally testify about the U.S. attorney firings (but not publicly). Meanwhile, the administration clings to its bizarre decision to hold fast to the Bush administration's all-encompassing view of the "state secrets" privilege, and the Nixonian view of executive power deployed to justify it. The Obama administration has also been quick to embrace the Bush view of secrecy in cases involving the disclosure of Bush era e-mails and has dragged its feet in various other cases seeking Bush-era records. If there is a coherent disclosure principle at work here, I have yet to discern it.
Trying to tease out a unifying theme here is probably not possible; there are not, as yet, enough data points. I have argued before that one of the reasons Obama will want to keep Bush's secrets is that he wants to protect his own. What's good for the goose and all. But it seems to me that along with good (or at least plausible) reasons for shielding Bush-era misconduct from public scrutiny, President Obama may also have some wrongheaded ideas about protecting Americans from knowing the truth.
Read on for the rest of her speculation, which she admits is unsatisfying.
I had always assumed they would punt on investigations but still hoped they would at least argue in good faith in court and allow the judiciary to do the dirty work. They could chalk it all up to the rule 'o law and not have to take any personal responsibility for "criminalizing politics." But they have actively supported these Bush era positions and the fact that there seems to be no obvious rhyme or reason to these decisions implies that they are either doing what Lithwick surmised and saving the power for their own use or are hiding some things that are so bad they fear the repercussions if it's revealed. After all, we know an awful lot about what happened, already, and it's truly terrible stuff. What in God's name don't we know about?
If it's really that bad then they need to lance the boil and get it over with. It will come out eventually and they will be implicated in covering it up when it does.
On a related, and equally confusing note, Greenwald dissects the administration's confounding Al Marri decision. The concept of due process just gets more and more absurd every day.