But from today's Los Angeles Times:
In naming a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA's use of harsh interrogation tactics, the Obama administration has plunged into just the kind of controversy it said it wanted to avoid -- a polarizing, backward-looking fight over issues far removed from the president's top priorities.Also, previously, from Jennifer Rubin, "Torture Prosecutions and Obama’s Radical Political Agenda."
At a time when healthcare and other signature initiatives are in trouble on Capitol Hill and President Obama's approval ratings are slipping, he now faces the prospect of a long, distracting probe into policies of the Bush administration -- policies Obama has already denounced.
And the furor is likely to be all the sharper because it pits the most liberal elements of Obama's base against the most unyielding elements of the Republican right.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs sought Monday to position Obama out of the line of fire.
"The president has said repeatedly that he wants to look forward, not back, and the president agrees with the attorney general that those who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance should not be prosecuted," Gibbs said in a statement. "Ultimately, determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the attorney general."
But keeping the president above the fray may not be easy.
"Unfortunately, the pressure . . . to indict someone will be overwhelming," said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official. That will produce "two simultaneous unappealing outcomes," he said. "Half the population will think it is a whitewash and the right people weren't indicted. And half the population will think it is a lynch mob.
"If the White House thinks they can control this," Lowenthal said, "they aren't nearly as smart as I think they are."
Cartoon Credit: William Warren at Americans for Limited Government.