Scott Horton writes at The Daily Beast that "Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era:"
A reliable Justice Department source advises me that Senate Republicans are planning to "go nuclear" over the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel if the torture documents are made public. The source says these threats are the principal reason for the Obama administration's abrupt pullback last week from a commitment to release some of the documents. A Republican Senate source confirms the strategy. It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration's darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward.
"There was no 'direct' threat," said the source, "but the message was communicated clearly--if the OLC and OPR memoranda are released to the public, there will be war."
Anonymous Liberal writes that "the motivation for this threatened filibuster is almost surreal in its degeneracy:"
It has nothing whatsoever to do with the nominees themselves and everything to do with preventing the further public embarrassment of Bush administration officials who authorized illegal torture techniques against detainees. This is apparently what animates the modern GOP.
I also find it interesting that the one thing that would get the GOP to use the filibuster is their desire to protect Bush-era war criminals--I think that says rather a lot about what their party has become. AL is absolutely correct that Obama should release the memos and call their bluff; the crimes they're protecting have no place in a civilized nation. Glenn Greenwald explains the situation and sounds the skeptical note that "It's unclear whether the claims of Horton's source are true:"
It sounds more like a responsibility-shifting excuse than anything else -- a way of blaming Republicans rather than Obama officials for the failure to disclose these memos -- but it doesn't matter in the slightest if the claims are true. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever to continue to conceal these memos, and the fact that the GOP will stomp its feet and obstruct nominees doesn't come close to constituting an excuse for ongoing concealment.
The only conceivable reason for wanting to keep these memos secret is to avoid the deep and justifiable embarrassment the U.S. will feel upon placing before the world documents that explicitly authorized war crimes at the highest levels of our government, and thereby avoid what will inevitably be the increasing political pressure -- domestic and international -- to investigate and prosecute the war criminals. Those who authorized these tactics knew full well that what they were doing was wrong.
Disregarding the expenditure of political capital, openness is the right path to take--does Obama have the courage to walk it?