Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another promise broken

Justice Department lawyers showed "poor judgment" but did not commit professional misconduct when they authorized CIA interrogators to use waterboarding and other harsh tactics at the height of the U.S. war on terrorism, an internal review released Friday found.

The decision closes the book on one of the major lingering investigations into the counterterrorism policies of George W. Bush's administration. President Obama campaigned on abolishing the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding and other tactics that he called torture, but he left open the question of whether anyone would be punished for authorizing such methods.

Liberal Democrats had pressed for action against the authors of the so-called torture memos, and they indicated they aren't finished discussing the matter. Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said he was "deeply offended" by the legal memos and planned to hold a hearing Feb. 26.

An initial review by the Justice Department's internal affairs unit found that former government lawyers Jay Bybee and John Yoo had committed professional misconduct, a conclusion that could have cost them their law licenses. But, underscoring just how controversial and legally thorny the memos have become, the Justice Department's top career lawyer reviewed the matter and disagreed.

Either (1) the "torture lawyers" did nothing wrong or (2) the Obama administration decided to let then off the hook anyway.

Either way, the self styled progressives have to be feeling betrayed . . . again.

Every time Obama breaks one of his promises or betrays one of his campaign themes, he loses the enthusiastic backing of those to whom that promise or theme was the most important issue in 2008 (whatever the size of that set of voters). They may still vote for him in 2012, but they won't volunteer or donate. Cumulatively, this is shrinking and/or turning off Obama's base. It's why Obama is in trouble.

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