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. Michael

    Wasn't Cheney's office strongly implicated in the outing of a CIA operative, Valeria Plame???

    Boy, am I confused......it's OK to commit a treasonous offense and rat out a CIA type but it's not OK to investigate to see if CIA types broke the law?

    Boy, try to reconcile that......regardless of your political persuasion.

    August 30, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Figgins

    No one is above the law. That includes prosecutors that misuse their authority.

    Since the US Atty General, and all of the prosecutors are appointed by the administration in power, there is always the chance of politically motivated indictments.

    We must keep a sharp eye on the Watchers as well as the criminals.

    August 30, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Get the top dog that secretly authorized this – against the Constitution and the Geneva Convention.

    GET SHOOTER and put him in jail. We've done it to foreigners who broke the law. SHOOTER is not above the law.

    August 30, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. john m

    if some agent was told something was legal to do, how can Holder change the rules after the fact and punish them? these were NOT civilians. civilian law does not apply.

    if the speed limit is 60, and that's what you drive, how can you get a ticket because someone decided 6 months later that the speed limit should have been 45?

    August 30, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. mother and sister of a soldier

    This is a travisty. So far the Obama administration has taken it upon themselves to apologize for past administration actions and now go after the very people who kept us safe! I bet those who believe this action is justified going after the CIA or any other operatives have never been in harms way nor understand the reality of war. I just wish all my brother or son experienced was water boarding or sleep deprivation. Lets put the politicians who are calling for this along with Eric Holder in a Gitmo cell with the worse of the worse. Please remember: it was Clinton who deported KSM after his first attempt on the Trade Towers so that he could go home and plan a more effective attack. We are weakening this country. Do you honestly think good christian methods will change things when it was the very christians who started this holy war between Islam and Christianity hundreds of years ago?

    August 30, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Blue

    When Cheney starts speaking out, he knows that he is in trouble.

    August 30, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. HOLDER'S-ABILITY-IN-QUESTION..?

    Give a little man a little power and watch the damage done to country
    and institutuions..We must ask: "What is Holder's motive to order
    yet another investigation of the CIA" ....? Perhaps he, Holder is out
    to bring Obama down....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. conservative NOT republican

    You know, he's right. No one is above the law.

    So Timothy Geithner should have his assets seized and go to jail for tax evasion – just like he was your average American.

    Tom Daschle's "honest mistake"? Sorry, that wouldn't wash for the rest of us. Lose your money and go to jail for tax evasion.

    Nancy Killefer "forgot" to pay employment taxes on household help? I'm sure the rest of us would LOVE to have household help. Off to jail with you too.

    August 30, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Seattle Sue

    The way I understand it, is that just Bush/Cheney and their administration is above the law. Oh I forgot that AG Gonzales just changes the law for them.

    August 30, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. saveourchildren

    Clinton was never brought to justice. Rangel, Frank, Dodd, Obama, Kennedy and many others with "D" after their name have committed felony crime (including treason) and have NEVER been brought to justice. Before the Obamist justice minister attempts to destroy our defense community perhaps he should indict the afore mentioned scum bags, bring them to trial, and send them jail or the firing squad for their crimes. Obama is playing with fire. He thinks his brownshirts can handle the situtation. He is terribly misinformed.

    August 30, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. saveourchildren

    Mr Holder's hate for this country is only exceeded by Mr. Obama's racist soul.

    August 30, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Dick Cheney, by authorizing these things, violated the Constitution and Geneva Convention. Lock him up. We've done it to others, he is not above the law.

    August 30, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    That an investigation into illegal CIA activities would make "it so the people at the CIA are afraid to do anything," is absurd. I'm certain there are many CIA agents who deplore the fact that some people in thier agency have used torture. Torture is utterly ineffective. Gerry, it was investigated 5 years ago? By the Bush administration that authorized the use of terror? You honestly think they were forthright in their investigation?

    August 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. minnie

    Eric Holder does not have enough sense to investigate anyone.
    Why doesn't he start with all those communist czars that Obama is running with. They are the scary ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. saveourchildren

    Ms. Cantwell puts the lives of millions of Americans at risk by her dalliance with Marxists and jihadists. It is a dangerous game she plays.

    August 30, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. dian

    Why do Republicans twist everything? The CIA will become fearful with doing their job???? Give me a break! The CIA is too professional not to do their job. We don't want them to not do their job, just do it within the law. Most in the CIA are doing just that.....Some...may have tortured inappropriately. Let's find out who and what went on.
    I agree with Holder....Investigate!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. kevincollins

    What GOPers continue to ignore is that what kind of country are we protecting that condones the torture of human beings? Whose citizens are dying because they can't afford health care? And so on.

    August 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Joshua College Station, Texas

    Wrong, Brother Hatch. The government has made it so the CIA isn't afraid to do anything, and that needs to change.

    August 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Vladimir Uschintsky

    "...harsh interrogation techniques..." Can we PLEASE stop using this euphemism? Can we just call it by its real name – TORTURE. "A rose by any other name..." Never forget that it is because of these "...harsh interrogation techniques..." that John McCain can't raise his arms above his head. And now we're finding out that they TORTURED CHILDREN, some as young as 14, maybe even some that were younger that we don't know about yet. I'm all for political reconciliation, but I draw the line at TORTURING CHILDREN! I don't care who did it or what party they belong to, its evil and counter-productive, and ANYONE that did it or ordered it should rot in jail for the rest of their lives, and that includes Bush, Cheney, and their whole rotten gang of thugs. Why is low level whipping girl Lyndy England one of the few serving a sentence for this? Perhaps she should be sharing a cell with Condoleezza Rice, down the road from where Alberto Gonzales is held.

    August 30, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. masswhole

    Congressman Rangel seems to be above the law.

    August 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Give me a break!

    If the Dems where so worried about this why did they wait until now to do the investigation? If this was such a big deal why didn't they start when Obama took office? Seems Obamacare is in trouble so they need something to take the heat off of them. The timing just seems a little too convenient if you ask me.

    August 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Dan

    Above the law? Unless your Rangel or any other Dem's who are tax cheats.

    Thankfully we had leaders who looked out for our safety and were not WEAK.

    Holder pardons Rich and wants to investigate the CIA? What a political hack he is.

    August 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Chip

    The mixing of the justice system with political agendas is a Bush-era vestige. It has blurred important lines. That said, pursuing justice and illegal wrong-doing is central to a nation of law. And the higher ups should be held accountable to the extent the law provides. Even members of the CIA need to operate within some bounds drawn from law and department policy. If individuals stray beyond those bounds they become simple criminals.

    August 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Charles

    The Agency needs to be able to do its job, but in order to do it effectively it needs the trust of the people and the government. The only way to restore that trust is to hold the people that violated the trust accountable. Ask any Catholic Priest how easy it was to do his job after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Even those that are innocent are held as suspect. The Agency needs to exorcise the demons of the last few years in order to properly do the job it needs to do to protect us.

    August 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. A dish best served cold

    This matter has now been turned over to the Vengeance Dept.

    August 30, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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