They were right. But as it turns out, they weren't serious about it. It turns out that they don't really oppose White House political intervention in the workings of the Justice Department; rather they oppose it only in certain cases. In other cases, they in fact demand that the White House intervene politically in criminal prosecutions of the Department of Justice. The self proclaimed "principled" people are very happy to ignore their principle when it fits their agenda.
At issue are classified information leak prosecutions. You see, revealing classified information is a crime. But, according to Glenn Greenwald and his friends, the President should intervene in the Justice Department prosecutions of these cases, and, I guess, summarily dismiss the charges. Especially since candidate Obama had expressed admiration for whistleblowers, President Obama must now step in and order the Justice Department to stop prosecutions at whim.
The specific case being highlighted by Greenwald et al is the case of Thomas Drake, who is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act. The case is a continuation of a prosecution that began under the previous administration. While hailed as a hero by some, intelligence officials do not consider Drake's leaks to be of a valuable nature, according to the Washington Post. Whatever the case may be, Drake is prosecuted in court, with the ample opportunity to defend himself.
But the relative merits of the case and on which side of it one ends up on isn't really the question here. Or at least, it shouldn't be. I'm sorry to break it to Glenn Greenwald etc., but you cannot have it both ways. Either the President ought to be sitting in the White House micromanaging the Department of Justice and telling the Justice Department what criminal cases (as opposed to Constitutional cases) it should prosecute, or he shouldn't.
It's rather baffling how the entire screaming, screeching, clawing-on-the-chalkboard Professional Left has gone in the space of roughly four years from being outraged about White House interference and coercion in Justice Department criminal prosecution decisions (firing attorneys who wouldn't prosecute sham voter fraud cases), to positively demanding that the White House coerce Justice Department criminal prosecution decisions. I'd say it's surprising, but it's actually perfectly fitting to their nature.
Rank hypocrisy is a hallmark of all faux-purist elements. It always has been. Rule of law is only important when it applies to your opponents. Accountability is only for other people. Principles can be overridden by the moment's convenience to try to bash someone you don't like. It's an epidemic.