August 30th, 2009
03:22 PM ET
9 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. Adam in Utah

    This investigation is not only perfectly legal but imperative. Torture is absolutely against everything that this country stands for. When we break our own moral code and lower our standards, regardless of the reason, we become no better than the terrorists we seek to stop.

    August 30, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. Drew

    As a retierd veteran the US Soldiers was used as scap goat to get the republicans out of trouble. The Soldiers follwed orders from the top. We have US Soldiers in jail right now and a hold lot of republicans should be along side them. At least the Soldiers served our country 99% of rebulicans never served in a war zone, Yet, they are the ones wanting to send our men and women into combat for personal gains, (BY THE WAY BUSH DID NOT SERVE THIS COUNTRY HE WAS A DRAFT DODGER),

    August 30, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. bam

    The Republicans are continuing to spread disinformation so as to sabotage President Obama. Following the same playbook they use on every issue, they disseminate talking points (lies and scare tactics) to their minions in the media who dutifully relay the propaganda to the American people. It will only stop when the media does its job by exposing the lies.

    Bush and Cheney broke national and international laws figuring they could never be prosecuted. I say that the US Justice department is morally and legally obligated to pursue violations wherever the investigation may lead. Just as Watergate was traced to Nixon, the American people deserve to know what was done in our name.

    August 30, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Gus The Willie

    The law is the law, so let walk the talk. The cup according to Cheney is not half full or half empty. If it was someone on the low end of the totem pole we would have had dogs wheezing on us. Go forth and let the truth be known.

    August 30, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Richard Nixon thought that he was above the law, remember? He resigned because he was going to be impeached and did not want to drag it through the legal works of the House and Senate. Then he got pardoned by Ford, and Bush communted Libby's sentence...(remember Libby was Cheney's Chief of Staff). Cheney passed the buck so he would'nt have to resign. Remember Bush's promise (what a joke that was) about firing ANYONE in the White House who knew or did anything with the Pflame outing.

    August 30, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. PROUD Conservative

    It is sickening it is legal to tazer our own Americans for speeding tickets with 50,000 volts of electricity but can't (under strict guidelines) water board, or play loud to get info out of terrorist trying to kill us Americans. Seems the Democrats are the biggest terrorist of all not protecting Americans but protecting the terrorist!

    August 30, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. gary

    Let me see if I have this right. a member of the senate said "No one is above law" what a joke!! There are 21 million illegal people in this country what the AG and this administration doing about that
    Note: to all members of congress and the senate "If you can't walk it don't talk it" You have lost the respect of the american people both parties are a joke

    August 30, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Billy

    Will the dems. be so quick when the repubs. get back in control? Payback will be something to witness!

    August 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. DEM in HI

    We do not need to become like the terrorists to win. We never needed these harsh/law breaking techniques before 9/11. In fact, the CIA informed Bush/Cheney about the plans before 9/11. Just that people did not take the CIA seriously. Now we have to break every law and the Geneva Convention because of Cheney and Bush reinventing history. If the GOP was smart, they would stop their objections and just insure that the investigation goes for the facts, not rumors. This is why the old GOP cannot attract new people, they seem like the party of NO.

    August 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Mike

    Cheney is full of you know what. All the Attorney General has done is appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether the law was followed or not. Holder has not ordered any prosecution of anyone. He wants the facts to come out. That is all.

    August 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Ronald Schwartz

    Every democrate in the admisnistration has either broken an ethics law or tax evasion law and not one has been prosacuted. This is just a political witch hunt to hurt our counry.

    August 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Bob of Lompoc

    People, get real. Any Government bragging about methods and success in torturing alleged enemies of the State is NOT trying to intimidate, or secure information from those "enemies". It is for HOME consumption. The Government (of George Bush, in this case, but he's not alone) is attempting to intimidate YOU, Mr. American Citizen, sending a message to YOU, and the message is, DON'T YOU DARE QUESTION THIS GOVERNMENT !

    August 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. dja

    The police have to operate within the law.. so does the CIA and FBI. It sounds like a repeat of the 70's. The same people that are worried about the right to bear arms and big government should be concerned about illegal wiretapping and an unaccountable executive branch. Torture is inconsistent with American (and Christian/Jewish/Muslim/..) principles and strengthens the hand of the people behind the suicide bombers. It is encouraging to see that there are still checks and balances on the actions of individuals in the highest offices, but the process must be objective and fair.

    August 30, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. alfred

    ...especially not Charlie Rangle.

    August 30, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. ComradeObummer

    Can we also investigate
    (a) Tax cheat Tim Gietner?
    (b) Nancy Pelosi's inside influence with StarKist Tuna
    (c) Chris Dodd's corrouption with Countrywide
    (d) Barney Frank

    August 30, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. J

    If Cheney has nothing to hide? why was he making such a loud noise against this?
    Any guess!

    August 30, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. mf

    so we should have an independent counsel investigate clinton's sex life for 5 yrs, but when repub's commit war crimes we should just 'look forward'

    got it

    August 30, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. Carol Ann Salerno Wilcox

    Dick Cheney is a war criminal-period. "Enhanced interrogation" is torture plain and simple. Call it what it is-not some stupid euphenism. Humans will say ANYTHING to avoid pain. WE cannot ever sink to the barbaric practices outlined in the Geneva Convention-else we are no better than our enemies.
    Surely Cheney is the model for Kubricks-"Dr. Strangelove."

    August 30, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. cj

    Better just do as President Obama has said. Move on. Although he does seem to refer back when hes in a pickle. Doesn't he?

    August 30, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Kim

    If we are a nation of laws as shelly suggests, why then are the Dems cannonizing someone who left his "date" to drown in a river and who felt he never did anything morally wrong? Further, to protect a nephew after he "raped" a girl, never heard really how that one turned out. I don't agree with torture, but for a Democrat to say that no one is above the law, well, that's just rich.

    August 30, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. John

    Unless your last name is Richardson and you've got friends in high places.

    August 30, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Ani

    Republicans believe they are above the law and that the rich should get richer, enjoy their insurance and live long lives of privelege. Shame on them for supposedly being the family party when in fact they are the elitest party which panders to those that do not know what is best for them. If you make less than a million a year and you are a republican you do not understand your own party platform.

    August 30, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Wild Bill

    Our CIA protects our country. The current admin going after agents from a previous admin will make it more dangerous for America. No agent should be investigated for what he did under the command of a past admin. The Obama admin is aiding the enemy terrorists with this type of thing. and lowering the hard work our agents do because now they will not do what is necessary to save our country if they can be prosecuted for what they did under a prior admin.

    August 30, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. brooks

    technically no one should be above the law but you can't say republicans are the only ones that abuse their power. I have first hand experience with kucinich's nephew who is going to get out of a hit and run and DUI. btw i'm neither rep or dem

    August 30, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. maddy09

    If no one is above the law why did the Attorney General in Washington order the investigation of Gov Bill Richardson be dropped immediately? Apparently Bill Richardson, a supporter of Barack Obama, is above the law.

    August 30, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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