I don't think it can be understated just how important it is that President Obama made the decision that he did on the release yesterday of the "torture memos." He promised to give us an "open and transparent" style of government, and this delivery on that promise in the face of fierce opposition of the intelligence community is enormous. It is a decision that I regard as a fulfillment of one of the reasons that I voted for him, and it confirms my belief that he is a man of honor and one who believes that the constitution of this great nation is more than just an aging piece of paper.
Accompanying that release with assurance that no one who used those memos as justification for acting in violation of the law has to be viewed, in my opinion, with decidedly mixed reaction. While one can understand to a degree not wanting to alienate the intelligence community, the reason touted for him giving that assurance, he is their boss. He need not cater to them in order to secure the performance of their duties in support of his objectives; they are bound to do that because of their oaths, their self respect, loyalty to their nation, and professional responsibility. If we have people working in those offices who would violate all of those things merely because they are pissed off at the President, then we have far bigger problems than we think.
The "I was just following orders" excuse was denied to the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials, and the ones who made that denial were members of what are now our Justice Department. Yet Barack Obama now gives blanket safety to our intelligence community based on that same debunked principle, and I find that difficult to accept coming from a man who is not only a lawyer but a constitutional scholar.
Still, he did release the memos with very little redaction, and what he gave was not pardons; so we will have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, he did the right thing. Win.