WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's decision to release four Bush-era memos regarding the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" was heavily criticized Sunday as a couple of prominent senators told CNN's John King that the decision was a potentially dangerous mistake.
"I think it was a mistake to release the techniques that we're talking about and inform our enemy as to what may come their way," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said on "State of the Union."
Graham, who opposed the use of techniques that many consider to be torture, added that he still believed "there's a way to get good information in an aggressive manner to protect this nation without having to go into the Inquisition era."
Independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who also opposed the use of such techniques, said the continued discussion would "make it harder for the president to do some of the big things he wants to do for the country - not just get the economy going, but get some Republican support for health care reform, energy independence and education reform."
"I go back to what the president said at the beginning, it is time to look forward," Lieberman said. "These are top secret documents. These were lawyers, you could disagree with them but in my opinion they were trying to do what they thought would protect our country."
Lieberman also argued that "this whole debate is moot. President Obama has prohibited these tactics from being used in interrogation, so what do we gain... by releasing the memos (and) from indicting lawyers for their opinions?"
Lieberman also said that, in his opinion, having a so-called "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush record on interrogation would "poison the water here in Washington. It will achieve nothing. ... So let the Intelligence Committee do its work. That should be the end of it."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, however, argued Sunday that the Bush-era interrogation techniques, not the release of their descriptions, were putting American lives at risk.
Gibbs pointed to comments from National Security Adviser and former Marine General Jim Jones that the continued use of the tactics had put U.S. troops at risk, and told NBC's "Meet the Press" that talk of torture had become a "rallying cry for those who wanted to kill us."
"Our country doesn't have to choose between keeping our people safe and the values that make us America," said Gibbs. "There are things this country just simply doesn't do."
And California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee argued that some kind of investigation was necessary.
"[W]e need to find these things out and we need to do it in a way that's calm and deliberative and professional, because I think all of this, on the front burner, before the public, does harm our intelligence gathering, it does harm America's position in the world."
Several Republicans characterized the dispute over the memos as a dangerous game of political gamesmanship.
Missouri GOP Sen. Kit Bond, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," called the release of the Bush memos "a stab in the back." Former presidential nominee John McCain, R-Arizona, said any talk of prosecution was about "settling old political scores."
"It was bad advice," McCain said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"But if you're going to criminalize bad advice on the part of lawyers, how are we going to get people to serve and what kind of precedent does that set for the future?"
Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett tried to play down the significance of the documents, telling CNN there was too much attention being paid to the memos.
"There's nothing in these documents that Americans hadn't seen all over the news," she said, adding that Obama believed it was time to release them and "move forward."
Jarrett appeared, however, to disagree with McCain's contention that former President Gerald Ford's decision to prevent the prosecution of former President Richard Nixon would be a good example to follow.
Obama, she emphasized, is leaving any prosecution decisions up to the attorney general.