There is good reason to believe that President Obama did not want the renewal of the bitter controversy over CIA interrogation techniques that is now upon us.

He may have a deep and abiding belief in the ability of an improved national image not to mention his own sparkling image to make us safer. But he seems aware that reopening these old wounds will further poison the political atmosphere here at home and deepen the divisions was elected to mend.

He must also be aware that an intelligence community made timid by the fear of being investigated in the calm of the future for actions taken in an emergency of the present will not make us safer. He must have thought that when he went against the advice of his intelligence advisers and released those legal memos detailing the CIA rough stuff after 9/11, that would be enough. His base on the left would be placated and a new inquisition into intelligence methods would be avoided.

But the left and its many adherents in his party were not placated. And when two of his top aides said on Sunday and Monday that there would be no prosecutions of either intelligence agents who relied on those legal memos or of the Bush administration lawyers who wrote them, the pressure mounted.

Overnight: presto-chango. As unambiguous a flip-flop as you'll ever see, raising anew the question of whether this president will ever buck his political base.

Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for FOX News Channel.