Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is endorsing current AG Eric Holder’s decision to investigate whether US interrogators committed criminal offenses when they interrogated detainees.
Gonzales is actually bringing some clarity to the matter. During the Bush Administration the AG’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a careful evaluation of interrogation techniques for the CIA, in which it ruled that waterboarding and several other “enhanced interrogation” methods were not torture. That ruling had the force of law: waterboarding was legal: even though John McCain and many others considered it torture, by law it was not.
Obama said months ago that his administration would not go after operatives who worked within the guidelines of the OLC. Holder is complying with Obama’s statement (although Obama has made clear that the decision is Holder’s alone to make). If interrogators operated within the law they won’t be prosecuted; if they went beyond the methods ruled legal by the OLC they will.
Criticizing Obama or Holder for second-guessing intelligence agents who operated in good faith is nonsense. Intelligence agents, like all other civil servants, military people, and Presidents, for that matter, have always been required to uphold the law. They took an oath to do so.