Sunday, April 26, 2009

Going after all the torturers?

I try to stay on guard against my own wishful thinking. But it seems to me that pretty-boy David Gregory may have committed an act of actual journalism today on Meet the Press. Almost certainly unintentionally. Though he seemed to be so concentrated on being a star with perfect hair that he didn't notice.

He had White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on. And in response to one of Gregory's questions, Gibbs said:

But the president, as you know, David, doesn't determine who knowingly breaks the law or not. That's set up and devised by the Justice Department and other lawyers and legal entities to decide those questions. [my emphasis]
He was being polite. I'm not at all sure David Gregory actually knows that or not. Even after that interview. Gregory then asked him about the prosecution of the torture lawyers, and Gibbs said:

The president doesn't open or close the door on criminal prosecutions of anybody in this country, because the legal determination about who knowingly breaks the law in any instance is not one that's made by a president of the United States. [my emphasis]
And Gibbs even insisted on staying on the topic long enough to say:

But hold on a sec, I think it's very important. This president campaigned very vehemently on the notion that the rule of law and that legal decisions should be made not by political figures, but by justice figures. [my emphasis]
The transcript has "justice figures" but I understood him to mean Justice Department officials.

Now, I'll know that it's working right when we see indictments for both senior officials and hands-on torturers. But this sure looks to me on the face of it that Gibbs is starting to walk back Obama's talk about exempting certain people from prosecution. But maybe that was too far out of David Gregory's Village field of comprehension to pin him down on it.

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