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. Tom

    No one is above the law, unless you are a Democrat. How was is that the allegations against Richardson suddenly disappeared, tax fraud by insiders ignored. Double standard.

    August 30, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. JOHN

    This senator doesn't know what she is talking about the CIA will be decimated under this poorly run administration. we have a lot to worry about obama isgoing to hurt the security of this great nation.

    August 30, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. JC

    I guess when we are attacked by another group of terrorist then everyone will be pointing fingures at the current administration for not being tough enough. Has everyone forgot about the servicemen that have had their heads sawed off in those Al Queda videos. If you think they will stop if we act more "appropriately" then you are mistaken. Let the CIA do their job and protect the American people.

    August 30, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. roger

    If you are not going to make them talk, Kill them on the battlefield and stop wasting time and money!!!

    August 30, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Susan

    This is political only in the sense that when it was happening and we KNEW it was happening, the Republicans in control called us traitors for even daring to question Bush's motives and actions. Now that Dems have some semblance of power, it is past time to bring this horrid history to light and get to the bottom these crimes, and ensure that this blatant disregard for the law never happens again, under anyone's watch.

    August 30, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Alfred E. Neumann

    We have here a fundamental difference in the American system:

    On one side:
    The Constitution & the end justifies the means.

    On the other side:
    The Constitution & no one is above the law.

    Don't misunderstand me, both sides are also accomplished at hypocrisy. In this case the CIA followed directives from a Republican administration. If it had been reversed the GOP would be pushing for an investigation.

    In Washington, not all politicians are corrupt – only the ones in power.

    August 30, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Long

    Maybe Obama can change the law?

    August 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. independent

    Me thinks he doth protest too much.

    August 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Sue

    Let's put them in a really nice room at the Ritz, buy them surf & turf and martini dinner, put mints on their pillows, explain to them how nice we are, and please, please, tell us why you flew 2 airplanes into our buildings and killed all those innocent Americans. Yea, that's the ticket...that will work!! Interrogation at its finest.

    August 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. source of tension between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill

    tension between Democrats and Republicans definately is not news

    if the GOP wants tension and any outrage they have to be effective then they cannot be outraged at EVERY SINGLE THING THE DEMOCRATS DO

    at some point the GOP becomes back ground noise, with the occasional 'no' getting through

    Sen. Hatch, she is correct. If we are to believe you, there is nothing the CIA can be investigated for, ever.

    your expression in the picture speaks volumes, to me it says: I got bullied into defending this GOP position, I don't really believe what I am saying

    August 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Jacob

    Jail Bush & Cheney!

    August 30, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Laura

    southern progressive and michael – you are really crazy. Do you read what you write? Are you kidding me? Have you ever been out of this country? Do you realize there are people out there who hate us just because we are Americans??? I dare you to go to Iran – you would see what torture really is!

    August 30, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. barbara

    No one except democrat congressman and women who have broken the laws that we must all abide by. No one except tos ethat KNOW that their feelow congressmen and women will not hold them accountable. (rangel)

    August 30, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Jared

    Disgusting. After the CIA, who is next on the list? The whole purpose of these investigations is to discourage the people that protect our nation from terrorists from doing their jobs. I could care less if a terrorist is tortured.

    August 30, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. The new GOP party of NO, racism, and hate is emerging

    Here is CNN John King carrying the water for the republiklans AGAIN...

    this dimwit wants to make the news; he ask questions just to make the news, instead of reporting the news, challenging these senators...asking them tough questions; if it's American to torture? where r the facts that torture saved american lives?

    John King just bloviate n wants to compete with Meet the Press...his show lacks substance, no reasonable dialogue...he is just carrying the water for the republiklans to air their talking points, spew their hate and bash the president!

    A fifth grader can do better than that!!!! – CNN take notice, nobody is watching!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. JR

    Cheney and Bush are, just ask them.

    August 30, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. tonyt

    Convention Against Torture and Congress's Section 2340. The treaty, which was approved by more than 70 nations around the world,

    Defined torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person ... at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity." Section 2340 contained similar language, defining torture as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering ... upon another person within his custody or physical control."

    August 30, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Michele

    I am frankly tired of being called a traitor by the right for holding to the very values they claim to promote: decency, honor, respect for the law, respect for all human beings (even those not white, not rich, and not privileged enough to be born American) and a belief in the goodness of mankind. That means I follow Jesus' teachings and believe war is never justified, and the only way to gain someone's respect is to respect them first, not bomb them or threaten them with an assault rifle and worse. Either God, as they preach, is looking out for us, or we are doomed anyway. If He is, then what exactly are they so afraid of? And why are they so hateful to those who don't see their logic?

    August 30, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Get Real

    Whether you want to admit it or not, ALL politicians are above the law.

    August 30, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. bill

    if this country can stand .impeachment of president for sex.then its high time we get the facts of bushes 911.and invasion and LIES ABOUT IRAQ YES TORTURE THEM.NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT .RIGHT

    August 30, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. Jay

    So the Republicans thought investigating and prosecuting Clinton for having an affair and lying about it was appropriate but not investigating TORTURE and MURDER of prisoners of war. Republicans are so hypocritical – Nothing more than a bad cartoon of their former selves

    August 30, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. Drew Williams

    Can we start the investigation by admitting there IS NO WAR ON TERRORISM, that the concept was created by politicians playing C-Y-A once it became clear there was no W-M-D after the invasion? Shedding ourselves of that particular chant might bring a little more clarity to the results.

    August 30, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Wayne in Louisville

    “They’re making it so the people at the CIA are afraid to [torture suspects],” said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

    Isn't that what he's saying and isn't that why someone has to take a stand?

    August 30, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Xavier

    No one is above the law. If Chenney and company did nothing wrong, then they have nothinng to fear. If they are dirty, then they should be held accountable for their actions. Why is that so difficult for people to understand?

    August 30, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. Mike K

    What does the fact that the terrorists broke the law first have anything whatsoever to do with us breaking laws? That reminds me of the rationale kids(and adults) use to try to get out of doing something wrong, "well, he did it first." That is totally unacceptable and laughable. Either we are a country of laws and abide by those laws or we are no better than the terrorists we are trying to defeat. The day we accept doing to them what they did to us is the day we lose all moral authority within our own country and around the world.

    August 30, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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