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

Obama leaves door open to prosecution of Bush officials


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. Sooze from Kona

    The Bush Gang SHOULD be held accountable. "We Don't tortue" was the famous words that Pres. Bush used over and over.
    Maybe we should waterboard Bush and Chenney and see if it really is torture.

    April 21, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Jay

    I know this won't show up on the blog, but The Democrats who signed off on this stuff in the house and senate intelligence committees deserve some of the scorn and vitrol you all sling at Bush, Cheney, Rove, et al. NONE OF THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT. If you are goin gto be ignorant, at least be fair.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. DE

    The hate that comes out of this adminstration is frightening. If Obama's thugs are going to prosecute for keeping our country safe, then after the next terrorist attack on this country, Obama should be shot for treason.

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Lisa K.

    It's about time.

    Do not pass Go, go directly to jail, Bushies..

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. eric

    Obamas poll numbers are dropping at a rate that will make Bush's poll numbers look good sometime in the next couple of months. I hope he tries to prosecute because his approval numbers will be similar to the number of wins by the local DC baseball squad

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Obama Victim

    passing the buck?? way to stand up loser..............

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Pete

    So, if war crimes were committed, what reason would we have not to prosecute? Or has the GOP been reduced to saying publicly that we should torture prisoners?

    April 21, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Tbone

    I find it interesting that President Obama says "us losing our moral bearings"
    Apparently, he found his "moral bearings" when he decided to broaden the opportunity to murder unborn children through abortion.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. williefloyd

    Mr. President, you are carrying a tremendous load on your shoulders. I am very proud to be an American again-it's been a very long time since I could say that. I hope and pray that more of our citizenry will soon realize the effort you are putting forth to correct so many wrongs that have been committed in the past. I don't intend to give you "advice" as so often is the case on most blogs. I voted for you because I believe in your intelligence and your sincerity in wanting what is best for our country.

    As an older, white, Southern grandmother, I'm thankful for what you are doing for my sons and grandchildren. God bless you and your wonderful family.

    A South Carolinian who will never again vote "RED".

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Angry Tax Payer

    Prossecute please! Enlightened Voter said it best. President Clinton lied about a sexual act, a crime against his wife. Bush's and Cheney lie about war, war crimes, they lie about lieing, they lie about stealing. We have been lied to for the last thirty years. We are now under the command of a good and honest man sho is doing his best to fix what has been done.

    Cheney said he would donate all his war proceeds to charity. I am yet to see a reciept for any donation.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Ken

    Go get 'em!!!! And to those who think that its just the "loony left" that wants this justice to be done, think again. Wake up from your despicable fairytale! Those that opossed Hitler's rise in Germany were also called names by the rightwing underbelly of that nation. You politically motivated excusers and justifiers of the Bush-Cheney regime do a severe injustice to all true conservatives who love the constitution and to the culture that informed the creation and sustainment of this country.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. sharon

    It just shows yet again how inexperienced his is for the job. He is a boy in a mans position. Big Brother might want to rethink this........ I hope he would pull out all the stops to protect this country........ Of course that will not matter, his cult like supporters will support anything he does.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    The "World" wants JUSTICE, on the illegal torturing. This is a good, and very welcoming BEGINNING for America to “Re-Brand” its image in the Global Human Rights! One must be a Good Leader for others to Follow!!

    Excellent Move by President Obama and there are many more to come.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Joe in NJ

    Great idea! Let's waste more time and tax pay money trashing the prior administration!

    Get over it Obama and start worrying about what you need to do and not what others did before you! You seem to have no problem overlooking the past actions and words of certain foreign leaders (i.e. "former enemies" of the U.S.) so why bother with this? Oh wait, I guess you still need to continue to appease the world and belittle America in the process.

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. STEVE R

    what about his order to green light the killing of three somoli nationals...........what did they do wrong?

    hold a US national captive and demand money......................

    and now he has started a holy war with another crazy wing of islam....

    but since right cant get a handle on this and the left is sssoooooo short sighted on this matter i bet lunch it will fall through the cracks

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. jilldee

    obama do you really love your country? you are giving up our cia secrets, what is wrong with you ? you should support us not the other countries get your head together you are only going to last one term thank god. you are setting are country up for more attacks, dont tell our secrets be a true president and protect us! take care of us first and then the other countries you should not be in that house you dont respect it . usa is who you work for remember that obama!

    April 21, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. dan

    Tell that to the men who found their buddies in the Delta with their body covered with cigareet burns, their genitals hacked off and shoved in their mouth and then shot with their own gun........\War is Hell and the winners have to be meaner than Hell!

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

    Cheney is hoping to talk all of his upcoming prosecution away.

    Let's see if we let him.
    Maybe if he barks loud enough? Arrf, Arf, Arf.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Lisa B

    And this is why all the hot air keeps on blowing from Darth Vadars's face. He knows he just might be in a bit of hot water, and it appears he might be right! Prosecute them. Jail them and throw away the keys.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. RAG

    Cheney first! Please! Cheney first!

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

    Be very careful what you wish for. Tying the hands of the CIA and badmouthing the US to foreign countries makes the US look weak. I was really hopeful that Obama would be a uniter, but every time he gets some bad press, he either plays the "race card" or makes some big statement about the Bush administration as a diversionary tactic. He needs to get to work on the things that really matter. If you notice George Bush at least had some class. He refused to badmouth Clinton (even after they vandalized the White House and Air Force one)and he has refused to badmouth Obama.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Rose

    If we don't take action against Cheney and his cronies for these war crimes the UN will. We need to set a firm precedent for the future.

    Personally I'd love to see Cheney waterboarded 183 times in a month.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. matt

    Good then Obama is next to be prosecuted after latin american turn against us and Iran starts killing americans even more since clinton and obama kiss there butt

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Nancy

    You people are crazy Bush had to do to keep this county safe. that is a big mistake Obama! I would like to know who side you are on.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Josh in TN

    I really can't stand the repubs and thier evil views, but I am reminded that I should pray for my enemies. May God have mercy on all of us. This whole planet is in trouble.

    April 21, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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