President Obama said Tuesday it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials. (GETTY IMAGES)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama left open the possibility of criminal prosecution Tuesday for former Bush administration officials who drew up the legal basis for interrogation techniques that many view as torture.
He said it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials.
"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more a decision for the Attorney General within the parameter of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that," Obama said during a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House.
"There's a host of very complicated issues involved there. As a general deal, I think we should be looking forward and not backwards. I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations."
Obama reiterated his belief that he did not think it is appropriate to prosecute those CIA officials and others who actually carried out the interrogations in question.
"This has been a difficult chapter in our history and one of (my) tougher decisions," he added.
The techniques listed in the Bush-era memos released last week "reflected... us losing our moral bearings," he said.
How sad... The people who have protected us are not under this weight.
Bush, cheyney et al should be tried for treason, torture and other crimes. If the rethugs impeached clinton over a lie those guys should be in prison.
70% of this country wants them to be prosecuted, so I say do it! They are criminals, and I also think cheney should be tried first, then rove, then bush! ALL are dangerous criminal loons! They are not one bit better than chavez or ackmadinajad, however you spell his name. They are all terrorist to this and other countries.
I am dancing on my chair.....
BIG MISTAKE Obama...quit trying to appease the loony left, you are already President...
Dick Chenney should be thrilled that Obama does not wish to prosecute him for allowing and giving the OK for torture.
Prosecutions should start at the top. Leading the list should be Bush, Cheney and Rove. These guys should be behind bars and never heard from again.
Cheney would want to shut up right now with all the criticism. He keeps pushing the GOP talking points; anything to demean or marginalize the work the president is doing.
I don't think its "tit for tat" but President Obama campaigned pro transparency. He didn't want to prosecute his long lost cousing (Cheney) but this former V.P. is truly the "black sheep" of the family – excuse the pu.
I would certainly hope that not only is the door still open but that the welcome mat is out with the porch light on!
I don't know if Bush was smart enough to wrap his brain around the implications of this, but Cheney certainly was, as was Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice
prosecute them, this is one among many reasons to prosecute them, pick the one that you have the best evidence on and are most assured to win prosecution and make them answer for their transgressions against the U.S. and for putting the future of the U.S. in danger by torturing
You have now lost your mind.
Check the polls today... cause it's going to go through the floor soon.
One and done... Barry
And thanks for opening pandora's box on the future... and don't foget Kennedy and the rest of the Arms Services Comittee who where fully aware of everything... including Hillary Clinton
Dick Cheney should be the first one! I think the reason he is speaking out so loudly against Obama is to gain support so his lying, racist, mean, hateful, angry, evil behind won't be put in jail for war crimes and economic crimes against America (Haliburton).
Cheney is an evil man... even GWB probably has issues with him running his mouth now.... What this shows is that Cheney manipulated our country and former president!
Just Evil at it's best and most vocal!
Good, Cheney, I am giving you the privilege of being FIRST on the list. Get vocal now.
Don't just leave the Door Open, Prosecute the Head Hoods...........Bush and Cheney!!!!!!! Since the GOP keep placing blame..........Let's see them get behind OBAMA and Prosecute Bush and Cheney for their war crimes
Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfield get a free ticket to the Hague.
War crimes, are war crimes regardless of who decided it was OK.
I don't like torture, but most of the things in these memos clearly weren't torture. Nearly every kid afraid of bugs has had a bug put in his face on a playground. It's not nice but it's not torture.
I DO want our country to be safe and if you can demonstrate actionable intelligence from these interrogations that saved lives then I'm okay with it. This is not a game. These terrorists don't care about rules. We need to find and kill Osama Bin Ladin. If you find him alive and torture him to get info to stop the next attack then so what. He probably deserves to be tortured after 9/11.
Politically, persecution and prosecution over torture will back fire on the democrats (especially if al queada successfully attacks us again).
Haven't these past three months been torture enough?
Obama is an exteme abortion rights provider but George Bush has lost his moral bearing for protecting the lives of Americans. What a joke.
I hope Cheney gets life.
This is the best news I have heard in such a long time!!!
They will all need to look at Dems too, especially those on the Intelligence Committees that knew and approved of previous actions should they wish to go forward.
any more out-burst by cheney?............please............
America doesn't torture.
If those who ordered and carried out these crimes are not prosecuted, the flood-gates of brutality will be opened.
The "Nuremberg defense" didn't wash in the 1940s and it doesn't wash today. These were crimes against humanity, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted.
War is war, and war is hell. Get over it. This is one reason everybody is pushing us all around, and beating up on us all around the world. We are too soft. We have everyone laughing at us.