When John Ashcroft is the only one in the room with some perspective, something is seriously wrong.
I think that there's a kind of hero-worship that's endemic to conservatism that allows this sort of thing to happen. That is, I think that the conservative tendency to trust our leaders can tend to isolate those leaders from the kind of thoughtful self-reflection that should be the first line of defense in preventing this kind of moral atrocity.
Broadly speaking, there ought to be an understanding that however much we like or dislike our leaders, they are by and large people, and rarely, if ever are they, or do they represent, pure good OR evil. They don't have a lot of secret knowledge, and they are not really that much better at making decisions than everybody else*. I think that liberalism understands this inherently, and thus tries to find correct policy through dialogue, research, and openness. (It is also why liberals argue with each-other so much.)
Conservatism on the other hand, or authoritarianism if you prefer, implicitly assumes that our leaders are inherently better decision makers, and therefore that their decision-making process does not need to be exposed (since it cannot be improved by our input), and therefore that exposing it is a hostile, subversive act. (This is also why conservatives have better message discipline than liberals.)
It appears that allowing the decision-making process to remain so closed, and letting organizations such as the CIA trust the decision makers so implicitly, has ruined the moral standing of our nation. That makes me sad.
*seriously. they don't and they aren't. If you think I am wrong, I have a simple thought experiment for you: George W. Bush.**
**for conservatives: replace George W. Bush with Bill Clinton.