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. Anne

    we may not. have much to appologize for but let us appologize for what we need appologize .healing comes when we recognize
    the wrong done and willing to make a u-turn.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. brenda

    Good for you Obama. I think this is great! Can we start with the bone head Cheney?? He talks to much.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. pink_pearls

    Ooowweee Barack is looking good here. So FINE!

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. DB

    "interrogations techniques that some call torture" ??? It IS torture!!! Let's not sugarcoat this - it's so demeaning to intelligent people to see how CNN is trying to spin this. I used to trust CNN, now you are pitiful (except for Jack).

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. dbacchus

    Obama, you MUST do it. It's the only way to make sure that this disgraceful crime will never happen again.

    April 21, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. OFL

    Recall that the burden of proof rests with the administration. Can they really prove they broke the law? I am skeptical that can be done objectively.

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Fernando

    The world will be a better place once Cheney is in jail!

    April 21, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. Ben

    If there's no accountability for breaking international laws like the last administration has done, what's to stop future administrations from doing worse? We can't just look away and pretend nothing happened, it'll come back around.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Jon

    If people committed crimes, they should be prosecuted. If they didn't, they shouldn't. Simple. What am I missing?

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Kanon

    @ Chi Town:

    Bush already opened it 8 years ago. Obama is trying to seal it.

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Bob

    NO ONE is above the law. Violators must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, ESPECIALLY the perpetrators who conspired to break or circumvent our laws....

    April 21, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. Linda B., Ga.

    I'm thinking that the GOP and whomever else thought they would be able to run over our new President.... NOT!!!!!!! :-D

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Melissa

    Huh. Interesting. I had a feeling. And I have to agree with him.

    Well done Mr. President. You said that you wanted to be truly informed on a subject before speaking about it and so you are, and now you have. Though I do suggest that those that followed orders and carried out the tortures be given intense psychiatric treatment. They are going to have a very hard time functioning for a long time.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Sue, NY

    The door was always open. I heard him myself a while ago stating that his intention is to look forward rather than backward and that it would be better for the country. However he also said no one was above the law and if the trail led to something then it should be followed. I heard that myself...not second hand.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. ck

    I forgot, all you have to do is have tea with the terrorists and they will spill their guts!! LOL

    How do you think we protect ourselves from barbarians? If they were human, sure lets talk. But we are dealing with animals that want to kill any American they see... and that includes the liberal sheep.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. STEVE R

    the best part would be all the people in congress who also knew about all this....and did nothing they would also be guilty...or are we just going to keep hitting the republicans and turn this country into a one part system.....what kind of democracy is that?

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Ernesto

    If an elected government official ignores the Constitution and breaks the law, they should be prosecuted. Bush, Cheney and certainly Gonzales deserve whatever.

    April 21, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. dan

    No there are not any complicated issues. Torture was committed in violation of numerous laws. Those who authorized torture, and those who committed it need to be held accountable, period! There is no ambiguity!

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. KevinBob

    How can the corrupted Obama administration have any credibility on morals and law when all I've heard is that they are potentially breaking laws and showing extremely poor morals themselves? Clean you own house before you clean any one else's. I'm sure the next administration will have a very busy time prosecuting these derelicts in the Obama administration and possibly Obama himself.

    April 21, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. obama/mama

    I would just prosecute Rove and Cheyney. I like Bush but he is simple minded. He may have been drunk when Cheyney gave the ok for the torture.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. JP

    In countries like Pakistan, the first thing the new government does is to throw the previous administration folks in Jail, and the chain goes on. They don’t realize that some day the current administration becomes the previous administration.
    Pelosi and Obama have a few similar ambitions; the difference is, Pelosi does it for vengeance, and Obama does it for political gains.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Ernie in

    This man will ruin America.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Rita of Dallas

    We have held foreign governments accountable for their war crimes. Granted there are crimes worse than others, but our officials should be held accountable to the law. If, after an investigation is completed and is found to have broken the law, then by all means put them on trial. One more thing; I was following orders; in no excuse. Did not these CIA agents know that what they were doing was morally wrong. The US has been the first to say, following orders, is no excuse. It is time to practice what we preach. If this is swept under the carpet, what kind of message does that send. Not a good one.

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Seed of Change

    Perfect! Cheney needs to stop boasting about torturing other human being in public like he has been doing.

    Cheney has been trying to desensitize people to inhumane behaviors by talking about torture while the children are up and watching TV.

    We hanged Germans for water boarding during second world war. Now Cheney is trying to boast about it in public.

    Shame on the inhumanity in the few human!

    April 21, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Just saying ....

    With Daniel Andreas San Diego being added to the FBI's most wanted list, I think left wingers need to worry more about their own extremists. There are crazy people on both ends of the political spectrum - and McCain is right on this one. Issuing a report suggesting that veterans are more likely to be recruited by right wing extremist groups is insulting and demeaning to those who have sacrificed much to defend this country. Kudos to McCain for speaking up.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
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