03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

As Torture Scandal Looms, C.I.A. Wonders, "Pardon Me?"

As early as yesterday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was taking an official hard line on the issue of presidential pardons: "I have to give the same answer, which is we don't speculate on any possible pardons." And that's a mantra, people. You can compose a Gregorian chant to that.

Well, Ms. Perino would be well-advised to do what she can to get the rest of her government peers back on the No Comment Reservation, because, via ThinkProgress, we learn today that there are some people out there who are willing to speculate on possible pardons. And loudly.

"I think there's a real possibility one of President Bush's last acts very well might be granting immunity to certain CIA employees," a defense attorney who has defended military personnel accused of prisoner abuse, Frank Spinner, said. "I think it depends in part on the election."

Is that problematic? Human Rights Watch's Thomas Malinowski thinks so:

"The problem with a pardon is that it makes it seem that you're admitting that crimes were committed. It has been extremely difficult for this administration to do that. I think they want to go down claiming that what they did wasn't torture and it was perfectly legal. To issue pardons would undermine those claims."

Far be it from us to tell the White House Press Corps how to do their job, but this could be a matter worth bringing up at today's presser. Naturally, they should try to be sporting about it, and give Perino a chance to call her husband so she can find out what the C.I.A. is.