April 21st, 2009
12:48 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama leaves door open to prosecution of Bush officials

ALT TEXT

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.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (317 Responses)
  1. Don

    And the next Republican president will prosecute Obama's administration officials for now revealing state secrets regarding to ways of extracting important intelligence from terrorists !!!!!

    April 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  2. Chad M

    CNN sure does bring out the radical left. Obama reminds me of Stalin trying to rid his nation of the opposition...scary times are headed for the United States.

    April 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Jonita

    That protection argument doesn't hold water the Bush administration broke every law known to man....They kept us safe.Give me a break...

    April 21, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Truth

    All this means is that Obama himself could one day be prosecuted. Torture has gotten worse at Gitmo since he baecame President. That is according to the terrorist scum that are being held there. You know, the very sam eterrorist scum that Liberals embraced when Bush was president.

    April 21, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Mike in PA

    "How sad… The people who have protected us are not under this weight."

    Wait ... didn't 9/11 happen on the Bush/Cheney watch?

    Cheney will shut up no as anything he says on FAUX News will be brought up in trial.

    April 21, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. retired 91C

    Chi Town to you I say: AMEN!!!
    But let not forget: OB just blames America and not him self.

    "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"

    April 21, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. NY Republican

    Quite typical, not enough "guts" to make the decision himself. Just like his good buddy Chavez, talking a good game but letting someoone else do his "wet work".

    April 21, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. hlf06

    carl rove, should be trading cigarettes for his life in prison by now.

    why do you think he’s on foxnews every single day, trying to discourage people from believing what President Obama is saying about torture and lying? He’s trying to build his defense as we speak.

    April 21, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Chester Davis

    This is the correct move that needs to be done. Yes leave the door open and let see what comes of it. This is a part of American history and needs to be corrected.
    I do not beleive that Bush full y knew what was going on, but on the other hand Cheyney knew full well. Let see what else he has to say now.

    April 21, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. 'coiny'

    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.

    why not? military personnel in iraq, were prosecuted for their crimes. double standard? CIA needs reform and those who tortured should, at least, be fired.

    April 21, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. Ron Mayes

    This guy is our President and we should respect the office. But the things he is doing scare the crap out of me. I think we are headed for a catastrophic collapse in all phases of our country.

    April 21, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Aviate

    It's about time.

    Cheney seems eager to defend his role in his administration's massive war crimes. Put him on trial first.

    April 21, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Jerry

    Most of us out i n the heartland know who the REAL enemy is, and it ain't in the CIA.
    I hope the next terrorist attack is focused on Washington and we'll see how the looney left handles that.

    April 21, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. BR

    The retirement is over Mr. Cheney. Insteead to visiting golf courses, you may want to visit the court more often. Whatever goes around it comes around.

    April 21, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. William

    Let justice be served! The White House does not oversee the Justice Department. Only during Bush's tenure did the Justice Department serve at the whim of the President and his comtemptuos minions.

    April 21, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. mike

    Ok – let's take a deep breath.

    April 21, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. JWR

    My question is: Would Americans want our own American soldiers; male or female to be subject to what went on at Gitmo? I hope not.

    April 21, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. William

    Let justice be served! The White House does not oversee the Justice Department. Only during Bush's tenure did the Justice Department serve at the whim of the President and his contemptuous minions.

    April 21, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. WhoCares?

    YES!!!!

    Lock up Cheney for sure. What a taint on American ideals and morality that sack of crap is.

    April 21, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Donna Mansfield

    If President Obama leaves this to the justice department, remember how Cheney stacked the justice department with HIS guys? Don't you think he was preparing himself for this very day?

    However, it would definitely be good for the country to bring these guys to justice. They are going to continue to foment hatred – something at which they've always been good.

    April 21, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Sumar

    I think it should be to a vote by the people of this country..........and I will bet you that 90% of this country will say Prosecute them all........

    April 21, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Erik S.

    Keep on hoping guys, it's not gonna happen, Obama is smart enough to know what was done was done in a time of war and great worry. It would be interesting to see if they release the documents proving that they got useful information that saved lives...but you guys aren't interested in THAT part are you?

    April 21, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. LikingThisChange

    I don't expect to see this happen, but I agree - Cheney would be my first pick with Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Rumsfield and Rice) right behind him.

    This aside, however, I agree that we need to look forward and not spend too much time looking back. Recognize the horrible "mistakes" that were made, and make sure they never happen again.

    In my opinion, Obama is already doing much to redeem our tattered image with the rest of the world, and for this I am grateful.

    April 21, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Fred

    Try, convict, execute.

    April 21, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. SoCalGal

    The dumbing down of Americans and their politician leaders has lead us to demean those who have kept us safe. You think all those 'baddies' are going to spill the beans just because a rock star wannabe says 'pretty please tell us what we want'? I wish all you obamaniacs could live together in a separate nation under which you only can live out the wishes of your leader. We'll compare notes in 4 years.

    April 21, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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