A presidential pardon may be in order

The beans are spilled. The cat’s out of the bag. The CIA just might have broken some laws when it detained suspected terrorists and subjected them to torture techniques immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

The spy agency says otherwise, that it broke no laws.

U.S. Senate Democrats on the Intelligence Committee insist that the torture techniques were real and allege that they broke U.S. law.


The New York Times editorial board refers to the findings in the just-released Senate summary of the “enhanced interrogation” as a sign of “depravity” that defies comprehension.

The thought has occurred to me. Perhaps it’s not an original thought, but I’ll toss it out there anyway.

Given that there’s really no serious need to prosecute anyone for alleged criminal activity, perhaps a presidential pardon would be in order.

Go ahead and snicker. This is a serious suggestion, even absent any formal criminal charges being filed against the principals involved — namely President Bush, then-CIA director George Tenet, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hey, President Ford pardoned his immediate predecessor in the White House, Richard Nixon, for crimes he may have committed while covering up the Watergate burglary. That was the right call in 1974. A similar pardon just might be the right call now.

Let’s have the debate over whether the suspected terrorists were tortured illegally. Both sides will vent. Both will have their say.

There well might be an inclination in some circles to prosecute those in charge at the time. Others will be declare that there’s no need now to punish those who might have committed a crime.

That’s where President Obama can step in.

He’s got the power to issue summary pardons. This well could be the time to act.