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. DAVE

    I say, he need to!

    April 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Mario, mtl, ca.

    Well say Mr. President the world is watching .. thanks to you

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Really

    This is a VERY sad day. For the first time in my adult life, I am not proud of my country. Bush served this country well. I can't wait until 2012, then we can start the prosecution of BO.

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Jim

    Round 'em up!

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Pat M

    What a waste of time and money. Focus on the economy. If what was done kept our country safer – which it has, then let it be. Every time a new party takes control of the White House, the winner party goes after after the loosing party and for what reason? One simply, for political gain.

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. This is Wrong

    This is an outrageous betrayal to those who have kept us safe. Obama is pandering to his BDS base.

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. inat

    obama is setting a precedent – we'll never get information again b/c everyone will be fearful of prosecution. When will this madness end?

    April 21, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    To Obama Mama...
    I picture the chair breaking from your name

    April 21, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Lisa T

    Good thinking! The trial should go rather quickly as Cheney has already confessed!!! Yippee!

    April 21, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    BUSH, CHENEY, ROVE, RUMSFELD, RICE.... go after all of them. They screwed this country and LIED AND LIED AND LIED.....

    and just watch how fast they bail the country.....

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

    Chi Town and Dumocrat Alert:
    If this were a group of Democrats, the Republicans would be all over them like a cheap suit! Remember the ruckus you made on Clinton? If half of what is being discussed about "W" and the rest of his crew is true, it will make Clinton look like he was convicted of jaywalking! What's good for the Democrats must be good for the Republicans. You can't have it both ways. If there was nothing to hide, then let the investigation begin. Shut up and stand aside!

    April 21, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    Since we have published past interrogation techniques, why not publish what we learned from those techniques and let the American people decide?

    I guess this White House is too busy apologizing to rogue states and terrorists to bother.

    April 21, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. disgusted

    I would love to see this happen, but I predict that it will not.

    April 21, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. really?

    Everyone on this board needs to wake up and realize that if not for these "Fear Factor" styles of interrogation methods we could be looking at a very different form of America right now. Love them or hate them, these methods kept us safer, and to send the responsible parties to prison would represent an astounding level of injustice.

    April 21, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. smoothoperator

    Keep Guantanamo open and Send all Retrogracan there....

    April 21, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. monman

    He should ask Perry and Ron Paul to apologize as well for hinting at seccession. That kind of rhetoric in itself caters more to right-wing extremism than any report will do.

    April 21, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. cabianni

    biggest joke of the century....liberals talking about a moral compass

    April 21, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Little too late????

    Forget war crimes...what about theft inside the Senate?? "On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband's real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms, the Washington Times reported on Tuesday.

    Mrs. Feinstein's intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn't a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments – not direct federal dollars.

    Spokesmen for the FDIC, Mrs. Feinstein and Mr. Blum's firm told The Times that there was no connection between the legislation and the contract signed Nov. 13, and that the couple didn't even know about CBRE's business with FDIC until after it was awarded."

    April 21, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Saddam tortured people and Bush/Cheney used that as a reason to capture and kill him after no WMD's. Did Bush/Cheney do the same thing? Cheney doesn't think so.

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

    Very Good
    they all should go in front of justice.

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

    Those who have not a conscience enough to know right from wrong and should be prosecuted... Nazi War criminals have always tried to hide behind the excuse that they were just doing their job, but when it comes to G*D's laws of human decency there is no hiding... Those who cross the line should be punished at least so that the value of the human conscience be championed...

    The terrorists are not good people but to torture them sinks below the level of a terrorist... Truth and conscience are the only measure of rightiousness and victory. Until this stain is removed, America has lost this battle in all arena's.

    April 21, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. jilldee

    we should of put hillary in there shes way smarter then that stupid so called president. keep your head down like the picture you should not be there one term only

    April 21, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. Paul from Phoenix

    This is crap. Tha administration didn't do many things right, but they did keep us from being attacked again. If we had been attacked, then the adminstration would have been accused of not doing enough to protect us.

    Again, I am not a Bush apologist in any way, but with regards to this issue, the administration was left in a no-win situation.

    In regards to Obama, I voted for him, but I am sick and tired of his America bashing tour. Our interrogation techniques should not be on the front pages of worldwide newspapers.

    I mean really, does he think that the Bin Laden will look at his comments and say "Well, now that Obama confessed, we will put our weapons down?" NO!!!!

    He will take those comments, turn to his surrogates, and tell them to use the comments to recruit more women and children because they offer proof that America needs to be destroyed.

    April 21, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Larry-Tenn

    By approving "torture" of captured individuals, the Bush/Cheny/Rumsfeld/Gonzales cabal put every member of the U.S. Armed Forces in greater danger if captured. This danger to our Armed Forces will not go away and is a continuing threat. Total disregard of the U.S. Constitution, laws and the Geneva Conventions warrant immediate prosecution of all who concieved and approved these torture methods.

    April 21, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. vince

    Once again Obama shows what good leadership and a clear understanding of our constitution is all about.

    He need not get involved directly, its best that this be handled by the justice department. That's where it belongs. The less political this is the better off we'll all be.

    April 21, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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