Our President has taken a middle road on the issue of Americans who torture: CIA agents who tortured will not be prosecuted because they were following orders.
Unfortunately, in this case, I believe he is wrong. I disagree with him for specific reasons:
1. The CIA is an intelligence group: Central Intelligence Agency. Get it? They should not be interrogating anybody. Their mission is to gather intelligence.
2. The FBI refused to participate in what is being euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation methods" because they were not legal. The CIA chose to do so.
3. After World War II German soldiers asserted that they had just been following orders when torturing Jews. They were convicted and some were executed. "Just following orders" was not an adequate defense.
4. Lindy England, Charles Graner, and Col Janice Karpinski did not get a pass on the torture that happened at Abu Ghraib.
5. Unenforced laws become unenforceable. If we are a nation of laws, not men, then we must uphold and enforce our laws.
6. Our President doesn't have the authority to decide whether illegal acts should be investigated. That authority resides with the DOJ. Attorney General Eric Holder should make the decision. I sincerely hope that he pursues investigation of these acts of torture, either internally or by the appointment of an independent counsel. Then let the chips fall where they may.
When the Bush Administration decided to use "enhanced interrogation methods" it did so knowing the methods were torture, and illegal. Else why would they have asked for legal opinions from political appointees in the DOJ in support of their tactics several months later? Remember, the torture began in August of 2002 at about the time Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was captured. The memos written by John Yoo, Jay Bybee et al, were not written until the spring of 2003. It's called CYA.
As an aside, I find it rather amusing to note that Karl Rove, George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and others have asserted that the Library Tower (Bush/Cheney called it the Liberty Tower) in Los Angeles was saved from destruction, via aircraft, in the spring of 2002 by using "enhanced interrogation methods" on KSM, who promptly gave up the plot. Except that according to their own records, KSM wasn't captured until August of that year.
When it comes to the Bush Administration I recommend we apply the Regan Doctrine: Trust but verify.