August 30th, 2009
03:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Dem on CIA probe: 'No one is above the law'


WASHINGTON (CNN) – A week before Congress returns from its August recess, there are already signs that a recently announced Justice Department investigation into the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects will be a source of tension between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“This investigation is very appropriate,” Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “No one is above the law. This is not a political process. This is a legal process. It’s a legal process to find out whether the law was broken.”

Cantwell was answering Republican criticism – most notably from former Vice President Dick Cheney - that the recent decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to open an investigation into CIA interrogations was politically motivated and runs the risk of making the spy agency timid in tracking down terrorists who intend to do the country harm.

Related: CIA probe is political, Cheney says

“They’re making it so the people at the CIA are afraid to do anything,” said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Frankly, it’s gone way too far,” Hatch told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

But Cantwell rejected the notion that pursuing an investigation of possible wrongdoing would make the CIA shy away from combating terrorism in the future.

“This is not about being timid. This is about being effective,” Cantwell said, “And if we want to be effective in the war on terrorism, we have to communicate to everyone that we are going to follow the law and we want their help in bringing about justice for the American people and to make them secure.”

“I applaud the Attorney General,” Cantwell added, “because I’m sure it’s a tenuous issue to be the chief law enforcement officer of this country.”


Filed under: CIA • Orrin Hatch • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Moe, NY

    No Sen Hatch this has not gone too far, actually, in my opinion, it has not gone far enough. Don't worry about the people in the CIA being afraid to do anything, everyone know that the CIA does EXACTLY what the powers that be tell them to do....nice try though, but no cigar.

    August 30, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. thomas lybbert

    No one is above the law unless they are democrats is what the speaker meant to say. Like the firing of the IG. the Takeover of GM and Chrysler, The appointment of the CZAR's many of whom are obama cronies from Chicago. Ballot box stuffing by the dem in the Franken election and presidential election. obama is trying to divert attention away from the health care takeover

    August 30, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. victor f

    If Dem's did this the Republicans would be calling for Kenneth Star. They would get Rush and Hanity to led the way. They would say the rule of law was broken. I get tired of this. NEED A THIRD PARTY.

    August 30, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Ain't life strange?

    “They’re making it so the people at the CIA are afraid to do anything,”

    Anything outside the law should be off limits... and that includes the CIA.

    August 30, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. G

    Thank you for stating the obvious unfortunatly the GOP needs to be told this or else they go crazy on you.

    August 30, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Jim Michigan

    There is no doubt this is political. There is no stopping this liberal leadership from conducting a witch hunt and prosecuting anything they can find that is Bush related.

    May I suggest when you are done, you take the responsibility of questioning terrorist away from the CIA and the military and assign it to congress and the Justice department. In fact, our political leaders should have to review all intelligence before our military or intelligence agency reacts. Complete legal action must be detailed and approved by congress, signed by the president and confirmed by the supreme court BEFORE those that defend us are called into action. If lives are lost in this process so be it.

    I am sickened to see our justice department, congress and our president take a tougher stand on Americans that did their best to protect us then they are on those who killed 3,000 Americans.

    August 30, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Art Michaelson

    Cheny is EVIL. PERIOD

    August 30, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Stephen

    If what the CIA has it's agents/contractors doing is illegal, they perhaps should be afraid.
    If we want to go down the road of torturing people to protect American citizens, then why not kidnap/murder suspects?
    Make it legal then you won't have these issues.

    August 30, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. Dan, WA

    Cantwell, your days are numbered here in our state. You will be shown the door. You can take shelter with radical Obama.

    August 30, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. chris

    what's going to be interesting is how the dems. spin it as Bush's fault when we get hit again. but with any luck....al qaeda's next target will be the Capitol itself!

    August 30, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    I hope democrat remember that "no one’s above the law" when it's time to investigate the democrats in Congress and the current administration in the years ahead.

    August 30, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. jon

    Clearly Senator Cantwell and Attorney General Holder are playing politics and directly weakening America's ability to defend herself. No good can come from their direct and vicious attack on the CIA.

    August 30, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. manemang

    From the outside, America is the only country in the world where no citizen is above the law. America is the law and the law is America. When we start taking sides because of politics, American values decay.

    August 30, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. John

    Former Vice President Cheney's assertion that torture was justified because American lives were saved is a morally bankrupt concept. Even if you accept that is true, which is questionable, is there no line, nothing that is beyond limits in the name of our national security? Why don't we just bring an suspect's four children in an execute two of them in front of him to make him talk? That would probably work, but what have we really gained (and lost). Certainly, terrorist have killed Americans and are plotting to do so still, but we should be discussing our behavior and not theirs.

    August 30, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Grrr-awful-o

    That's correct. No one is above the law. And elected officials are not exempt from being investigated and prosecuted for lying to the American people. Everyone in agreement with that? Then as a part of this probe (and, yes, I think they should do it), Nancy Pelosi must be investigated for her statements about the CIA lying to her and Congress and for having not met their obligation to keep Congress briefed on what they were doing in enhanced interrogation techniques. Agree? And the rest of Congress must be investigated to see if they were or were not aware of this. And, most importantly, whether they had moved to stop it or whether they had approved it – even if only tacitly. If we all agree to that (and if not then you're just being partisan and your opinion is worthless) then we must all agree that everyone – of both parties and any independents – that are guilty of lying then or now must be prosecuted along with any other people, CIA or politicians, that broke the law. If we are going to operate on equal footing and not make it a political witch hunt, then I agree this is what we should do. And I would like to hear Pelosi's opinion on this evenhanded approach.

    August 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Isaac Arnett

    If a person violates the constitution that they vow to uphold, someone needs to be held accountable. Even if he was a president . There needs to be a clear message that no one is above the law. There are people in prison for stepping across boundries and they believed they were justified at the time, but wrong is wrong, big or small.

    August 30, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. William in San Jose

    Only a fool would believe an investigation unwarranted. Pelosi should never have taken the 'option off of the table'. That's when the investigations should have begun. The gun is no longer smoking; the right wing noise machine is focused on keeping the local yokels all spun up over health care "reform" to the tune that half of the public actually backs monstrous profits for insurance companies instead of their own well being! Investigate but isn't it a little late in the game? Believe me; I like nothing better than to see Bush through Bremmer, all in orange jump suits at Leavenworth.

    August 30, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  18. Cindy

    Good Old "Ron Paul", has always campaigned that we should 'dismantle' our CIA. - Isn't he someone that the 'right' is supposed to respect so much? If so, then a little investigation into whether there was criminal activity going on or not should not hurt in the least! And when they find out who is guilty, PRISON should be what they get. A little dose of "PRISON SOCIALISM."

    August 30, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Call Me Crazy

    Investigate to see what really goes on. Keep the investigation classified, so we can protect the security interests of the country and the safety of the CIA agents, et al. If they find anything blatanly unlawful or immoral, dole out the appropriate punishments. If we find anything borderline unlawful or immoral, use it as a chance to define our conduct moving forward.

    Someone here said it well. It is a tough job keeping us safe. There has to be some wiggle room for times when we absolutely can save lives. But not much.

    I may be in the minority, but i feel that there is sometimes a price to pay (in lives, unfortunately) in order to keep our freedoms. I would rather we keep our moral compass and not torture people...even if it means there are a few casualties as a result.

    What was that saying...better ten guilty men go free than an innocent man be punished. It's just the way a just society works.

    August 30, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. William in San Jose

    Only a fool would believe an investigation unwarranted. Pelosi should never have taken the 'option off of the table'. That's when the investigations should have begun. The gun is no longer smoking; the right wing noise machine is focused on keeping the local yokels all spun up over health care "reform" to the tune that half of the public actually backs monstrous profits for insurance companies instead of their own well being! Investigate but isn't it a little late in the game? Believe me; I would like nothing better than to see Bush through Bremer, all in orange jump suits at Leavenworth.

    August 30, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. JRD

    A new administration cannot come in and prosecute people who were acting under an old administrations directive. That is dangerous and leaves administrations, intelligence agency's etc. almost inneffective for fear of future retrbution for following orders.

    August 30, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. K2

    >No one is above the law.

    Yeah, Obama is from Chicago, he knows all about not being "above the law". That's why you create fascades, like ACORN, to do the dirty work.

    August 30, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Helmetbreaker

    No one is above the law....except members of Congress! Right now Pelosi is sitting on 11 ethics violations (7 Democrat, 4 Republicans) resisting having them sent to the House Ethics Committee! You have a den of thieves throwing bullets at the CIA, Federal Reserve and who knows what else! And the biggest crooks are the ones throwing them!

    August 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. KWAME-BASH

    Health Insurance Reform now is what need

    August 30, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. VON BISMARK -Vienna

    If Cheney knows no laws were broken why is he so scared about investigation? It's like only the terrorists are obliged to respect human rights.

    August 30, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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