I'm uneasy about prosecuting people who rely on the OLC, which they ought to be able to rely on. (I think that relying on legal interpretations offered by the people charged with interpreting the law for the executive branch is very different from "just following orders.")
I don't agree with that completely, and think that's far too lenient. I think those officers should be removed from their posts and forced to testify against those who devised this illegal system. They might not go to jail, but they don't get to walk away clean and they will serve some function.
Further consideration, in no small part to Smitty's comment, leads me to make a sort of Faustian bargain to sacrifice the smaller fry for the bigger fish: If fully exposing this whole affair and nailing Bybee, Yoo, Addington, Bradbury—and, yes, Bush and Cheney—means granting immunity down the chain, I can live with that.
What I cannot accept is this [from today's White House press briefing]:
Q: So I understand, you're saying that people in the CIA who followed through in what they were told was legal, they should not be prosecuted. But why not the Bush administration lawyers who, in the eyes of a lot of your supporters on the left, twisted the law -- why are they not being held accountable?
MR. GIBBS: The President is focused on looking forward, that's why.
Fuck that. That is effectively stamping "APPROVED" on what has happened. It is setting precedent, and it is making clear that people in power are above the law. That cannot stand.
I'll let the better writer take it from here...
You know what? I'm focused on looking forward too. And as I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a world in which members of the executive branch take it for granted that they can do whatever they want with impunity. Why not break the law? Why not eavesdrop on Americans? Why not torture people? Why not detain citizens indefinitely without charges? Heck, why not impose martial law and make yourself dictator for life? There is nothing to stop the people who make these decisions. They have nothing to fear. Because once they've made them, their actions are back there, in the past that no one ever wants to look at.
[...] I do not want a world in which members of my government can break the law with impunity. I do not want a world in which some people are above the law. In a perfect world, we would not need to prosecute people to achieve these results. But the past eight years have shown us that we don't live in that world."