Procession of the Skeletons

Ugly reminders of the United States’ harsh interrogations continue to come to light.

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President Obama has clearly stated his desire to move on from news that the Bush administration endorsed interrogation techniques for terror suspects that the current White House has branded as torture. But moving on from an ugly past is difficult when skeletons—or at least suspicious bone fragments—continue to tumble out of the closet on a regular basis. Obama scores a 15 on the Change-o-Meter.

As Slate’s John Dickerson writes today, Obama now finds himself in clarification mode as public anger mounts over definitive evidence of water-boarding and a hard-to-referee debate over whether harsh tactics are effective. As he finesses his position, however, it is clear that the potential prosecution of Bush administration lawyers, now in the hands of Attorney General Eric Holder, is still not something the president wants to see happen. As Dickerson notes, “If there are no prosecutions of former Bush administration lawyers, it won’t be a big issue at the attorney general’s annual evaluation.” Obama has not sustained much political damage in the fracas thus far, but the ‘Meter maintains that he’s too eager to get on with business and deducts 15 points.

Italian automaker Fiat is reportedly considering a stake in a European unit of General Motors and is still planning to take a 20 percent stake in Chrysler, the New York Times reports. The clock is ticking for Chrysler, which has until April 30—a week from today—to make the deal or to face liquidation. News of a likely salvation for the U.S. automaker, which the White House has orchestrated, is good for 15 points, bringing the ‘Meter back to zero.

An energy bill with ambitious climate-change provisions won cautious compliments from two of Obama’s Cabinet members, who did not endorse the bill on the grounds that they were still reading it. In the meantime, though, the ‘Meter tosses in 10 points for the mere sign of collusion between the White House and Congress on important agenda items.

An anticipated presentation on the White House’s cybersecurity policy left many watchers disappointed with the lack of details, though the Washington Post’s Brian Krebs observed that the official who presented the plan “did say more about the economic aspects of cyber (in)security than I’ve heard recently from a top government official, which is encouraging.” The ‘Meter would like more details too, but tosses in five points for the acknowledgement of the gravity of the problem. After all, we don’t want this happening.

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