[T]he American legal system and the U.S. Constitution had survived Nixon’s attempt to undo it. Congress had held wide-open hearings, of a kind it was very hard to imagine taking place in the Palace of Westminster, and summoned important witnesses to testify. The Justice Department had resisted the president’s lawless attempts to purge it. The special-prosecutor system had proved itself. The American press, led by the Washington Post, had penetrated the veil of lies and bribery and—despite crude threats from the White House—had eventually named the main perpetrators on the front page. And all of this in a time of continuing warfare in Indochina.
As Andrew Sullivan notes, the new Cameron government is opening an investigation into Labour's complicity in torture in the War on Terror. Meanwhile President Obama, despite having campaigned on restoring law to our foreign policy, refuses to take legal action against the architects of the U.S. torture policy, and continues the process of extraordinary rendition and maintains its right to executive secrecy and, stunningly, the right to assassinate U.S. citizens with no oversight. That this is the best we could have hoped for in the last presidential election, and seeing Hitchens’ and Sullivan’s counter-examples of what could be, is most dispiriting.