Roger Cohen has become a mostly thoughtful voice on foreign policy at the Times, but this makes next-to-no sense:
To some degree, words failed us all in the aftermath of 9/11, a time of fear and disorientation. Journalists did not meet the challenge of holding the executive branch accountable, politically and morally, in the run-up to the Iraq war. Such failures, it is true, were not gross manipulations of the law in the service of inhumanity, but they were failures nonetheless. And they carried a human price.
So I’m wary of the clamor for retribution. Congress failed. The press failed. The judiciary failed. With almost 3,000 dead, America’s checks and balances got skewed, from the Capitol to Wall Street. Scrutiny gave way to acquiescence. Words were spun in feckless patterns.[….]
That, of course, is Obama’s favorite word: responsibility. I think it demands some acknowledgment that, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
I understand being ambivalent about prosecutions. I am ambivalent myself, without knowing in advance what an investigation might unearth. But this “we all failed” stuff is just bullshit. There are plenty of dirty fucking hippies who opposed the craziness every step of the way. Words didn’t fail them.
And while I can sympathize with CIA interrogators who in some cases may have been following orders, how many of us really look at Dick Cheney, who may have in effect ordered most of this, and think “There but the grace of God, go I?”