This time, it's going to be different.
When Gina Haspel -- the current deputy director of the CIA, who once ran a secret "black site" prison in Thailand where a terrorism suspect was tortured with waterboarding, and was later involved in destroying torture evidence -- was picked this month by President Trump to head the spy agency, her allies said she'd learned her lesson. A friend of Haspel who worked in the Obama administration told the New York Times, "My experience from working with her is that she has learned from those mistakes and will be a thoughtful and conscientious leader of the CIA."
Allrighty, then. Ditto, apparently, for John Bolton, who spent those same dark years of the mid-to-late 2000s as a "diplomat" in the George W. Bush administration, a strange title for a foreign policy pundit who never seems to have met a war he didn't like, except for the one that he might have had to actually fight in, Vietnam. Just weeks after he called for a military first strike against North Korea -- a move that some experts say could lead to 1 million or more casualties in the ensuing fighting -- Bolton now insists that he's not that guy anymore.
Maybe. CNN reported in the days immediately after Trump picked the 2003 Iraq War cheerleader to become his new national security adviser that Bolton assured the 45th president "he wouldn't start any wars." (Later, there was pushback that Bolton, who wants to rip up the nuclear peace deal with Iran along with his more aggressive North Korea posture, made no such promise.) Either way, much of the inside-the-Beltway establishment seems convinced that the good people who made a few tiny mistakes back in those crazy post-9/11 times have now turned over a new leaf.
And why not believe them? I mean, were they and their friends in the Bush 43 administration lying when they told America and the world that Saddam Hussein was hiding a large cache of "weapons of mass destruction," or that the clock was ticking on an Iraqi nuclear program, or Saddam's government had ties to the al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked us in 2001 (even if 15 of the 19 attackers came from "friendly" Saudi Arabia)?