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. Noans, South Pasadena

    Shame on you President Obama for not prosecuting Bush and Cheney and their sadistic brood, John Yoo, Baddington, et. al, for torture. Torture is a violation of LAW, here at home, as well as internationally and you don't have the right to ignore the LAW, President Obama. We have already had eight years of a President and vice president ignoring the law and thinking they were above it. NO MORE!!! Prosecute all involved so that there is accountability for them violating our laws. As citizens, we are held accountable for breaking our laws but since Nixon, the Presidents think they are above the law, well you are not. NO MORE!! Prosecute NOW!

    April 21, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Republicans Suck

    Prosecute the thugs now!

    April 21, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    All involved in the process from the requester (GB or DC?) of the legal opinion which would support his decision to "authorize" these techniques down to the minions who carried out the procedures must be brought to justice.

    No less than the justice brought to all levels of Nazis (A.H. down to an army private) who participated in the genocide of millions.

    April 21, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. don

    Let the right wing know he is no apologist!

    April 21, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Lori

    Prosecute them! Prosecute them!

    April 21, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. OReally

    Either they broke US and/or international laws or they didn't. Partisan politics has nothing to do with this issue – in spite of some of the too little, too late whining we see here.

    Attorneys writing the rationale behind the sanctioning of torture were using their expertise and education to further their purposes – now they are facing the possibility of paying dearly for the semantic, and very likely criminal gamesmanship they so much enjoyed.

    April 21, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. mc

    I also find it a bit tiresome, that Cheney keeps telling us that President Obama is compromising "security" in this country.

    Ummm....didn't the biggest, single terrorist attack in the United States happen on HIS watch!

    April 21, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. zago

    Jimmy Boy: How sad… The people who have protected us are not under this weight.

    You have short lived memory.

    It was only under the watch of your so called protectors that America has lost more than 3000 men and women on its soil. Please wake up

    April 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. David

    Yeah, maybe we should have asked the Al Qaeda detainees politely to give us information that would enable us to prevent further attacks to our country. Wake up people!! When our fellow American's lives are at stake we should want our government to do anything and everything in its power to protect US first. Let's say one of your family members were captured by a terrorist organization and we had in our custody someone that knew exactly where they were but would not talk. How do you feel about those tactics now? Not so bad anymore...

    April 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Richie2

    I see cheney's heart.....It is an evil heart!

    April 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Grog in Ohio

    Much, much better plan, Mr. President.

    April 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. tedious898

    Jimmy...protected us? 9/11 actually happened. How do you call that "protected us"? That rock you've been living under is causing your eyes to squint

    April 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Jan

    This is truly fantastic news from our government.

    America doesn't torture - and those who think they can somehow justify torture are getting ready to face the music, played by someone other than Mr. Cheney.

    BRAVO PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!!.

    April 21, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. Mike H.

    The officials who authorized harsher interrogation methods should be praised not prosecuted. The bottom line is that the intelliegence gained from these interrogations saved American lives. I think we should all place a higher degree of morality on saving the lives of our fellow citizens than on the momentary hurt done to those who would kill us.

    April 21, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. bill

    start with Cheney

    April 21, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Jason B.

    I'd have to agree that there should be people prosecuted. There were some blatantly wrong things done. We committed actions on others that we'd never want to happen to our own troops. We're above that kind of stuff.

    Just remember the Nuremberg trials after World War II...saying "I was just following orders" doesn't make things OK. And in my opinion, neither does redefining what's "legal" just so you can get away with stuff.

    April 21, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. EL

    its about time ! Cheyney and Rove need to be the first to go!

    April 21, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. white woman in Hawaii

    Good! Leave the door WIDE open, as there needs to be some accountablilty here. I would love to see Chaney in an orange jump suit, it would make my day.

    April 21, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Oblio

    This makes me happier than you can possibly imagine.

    April 21, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. onthe10brink

    Hey! Another chance to be hypocritical. While they're at it, let's try and convict the entire congress. Are you ignorant enough to think they didn't know?

    April 21, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Mike

    obama is the lost moral bearing. Releasing water boarding information that is classified but not releasing the documents that shows we were able to capture terrorists from this. What a LOSER you have put into the White House.

    April 21, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Obama is overrated

    Great, prosecute the people who have been keeping the country safe for years for all you liberal, left-wing imbeciles. What's next, prosecute the students who wish to say the Pledge of Allegiance in their schools? Nobama 2012.

    April 21, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Dan

    Super, he's open to the idea of probes.

    April 21, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Irene

    I can hardly wait for justice to be served on the right wing reign of terror. We must prosecute Bush/Cheney and their policy-makers so that we never go down this road again.

    April 21, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. mjm

    All show and no go.

    He cannot prosecute anyone for this. Any suggestion otherwise is an attempt to pander to the crazy left.

    This is pathetic politics and most of us are starting to see through it.

    April 21, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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