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. Kevin Schmidt

    Of course, this whole conversation is ridiculous. We have laws against torture. dick Cheney and his minions have publicly admitted to ordering, supporting and carrying out acts of torture. So where is the controversy?

    Oh, that's right, the controversy is over whether or not to uphold the rule of law, to bring back habeous corpus, and to allow us to have our Constitution back at the risk of being overwhelmed by so called terrorists who "hate our freedoms" to rape, loot, plunder and kill in the name of American imperialism.

    Give me liberty or give me death? Since Dubya was selected unconstitutionally by a partisan, treasonous Supreme Court, we have been given death and destruction. For a change of pace, I'd like to try out liberty for awhile.

    August 30, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Paul in Texas

    How can anyone anyone argue that we shouldn't investigate a very credible allegation of broken law? If you believe the CIA/Bush administration is innoccent the you should want to see them vindicated. If they are guilty the we cannot be held hostage to a fear of negatively impacting agent morale. I believe that most of the men and women who serve in the CIA do so out of a profound love of country and are appalled that they are being used as an excuse to suspend the rule of law that they risk their lives to protect.

    August 30, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. SKF., Eugene, Oregon

    “They’re making it so the people at the CIA are afraid to do anything,” said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch

    Gee, really?! That's all you've got? Welcome to the tables turned to the REAL World and that which you carelessly deny or approve for all us "nobod'ys" Senator!

    August 30, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Danny

    I wonder if all you folks who are crying about the law being broke were to have one of your own hurt or killed by scum terrorists, Would you somehow muster up a double standard? Stop complaining about the CIA doing their job, I don't hear you crying when a cop uses brutality on a U S citizen, but let a terrorist get slapped arround so as to protect you & yours & you start squilling like a pig caught under the gate

    August 30, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Dems are nothing but HateMongers

    It seems that those who profess to oppose torture, only do so to strike at Republicans and even go so far as to ask that Cheney be tortured. What a joke you people are!

    August 30, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. James T. Grimes

    I hope the DUMBOCRAT'S remember this after Obummer leav's and his crooks face the court's for their crimes ect.

    August 30, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. DB

    I can't believe that people actually feel sorry for these scumbag terrorists. What if another 9/11 could be prevented that was going to affect you or someone you care about? These people want to kill as many of us as they can and people are crying about a little torture? What's this country come to?

    August 30, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Leonard Pierce

    Speaking of crooks! You mean like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, Nancy Pelosi, and all the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet!!!!!

    August 30, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. diana

    Well Sa if CIA really did there job on Bush "keep us safe" administration, 9-11 should had not had happened in the first place isn't it.?

    August 30, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Speider

    Unless the law is for all, then it is for none.

    August 30, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Tom in VA

    The politicians and their sheep who continue to press the CIA and Bush administration on "harsh interrogation techniques" (funny, they didn't BEHEAD or DISMEMBER anybody like our foes have) are a disgrace to every servant who has ever sacrificed in service to this nation.

    Conflict is not always politically correct or pretty....guess what, the CIA and other agencies have done things over the past several decades to protect this nation that should not be disclosed for public consumption – under Executive orders – because of the very PUBLIC debates that are being aired INTERNATIONALLY.

    WAKE UP, LET THE DEFENDERS DEFEND!

    August 30, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. LouAz

    Since WWII, the US Govt. has prosecuted those responsible for torture, when we have won the War. We did not win in Korea or Vietnam. Since the current "war" on/with/to/about/? al Quida is still not determined, the Bush Administration felt OK to torture "POWs" anyway they thought legal, thus throwing away 60 years of living by our own laws with respect to torture. Had they acted with steady resolve after 9/11, instead of frittering time away hand wringing, they might have killed ObL. Our soldiers had no qualms about going into anyplace on earth to get him, and at any cost. Seems Bush/Cheney lacked the guts to authorize it. Cowards ! Both of them.
    If it was up to Darth Cheney, thumbs screws and the rack would be "standard military issue" equipment..

    August 30, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. GP

    The ones with the most to gain and protect are the ones crying the loudest about re-applying the rule of law.

    Bush/Cheney thrived on exagerating, overstating or simply making up terrorist threats.

    I could be argued that except for one day, Bush/Cheney did in fact keep the country safe.

    Rendition, torture, FISA, Patriot Act are the legacy of Bush/Cheney.

    August 30, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Angela

    The notion that it is traitorous to uphold the laws is mind boggleing.
    If the CIA would have its morale damaged by not being allowed to break laws with impunity we chould get new CIA employees.

    I had always thought the US was a nation of laws but now Cheney and company want laws not to apply to them in my view that is the behavior of something worse than criminals it indicates a mental illness.

    August 30, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Mark

    As Senator Cantwell said "it is a legal process". When politicians and operatives of the political process believe they do not have to adhere to the rule of law – then you have anarchy, chaos, and lawlessness. It is the Republicans who are making it a political agenda rather than upholding the law. If the US is not seen as a civilized nation with a rule of law then why would we expect other countries (or terrorists) believe it to be true – and the anarchy begins... hmm...seems like that is exactly what has transpired.

    If I broke the law, should I be given a waiver because I'm a politician or yell "wolf" when one isn't really there (even I believe it to be so!)....

    August 30, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. Rose

    If, as she says, no one is above the law, why haven't they done something about Rangel, his so called investigation has been going on forever and yet he continues to chair a committee. Now he just found some money he forgot he had, they need to suspend him and get to the bottom of this problem. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW including Dems

    August 30, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. tim b

    I would agree with Republicans on this issue if it weren't for the scope of this preliminary investigation. Holder has already said that "those that followed the directive of the previous administration(even though that directive was so obviously illegal) would not be prosecuted only those that went beyond what was at the time thought to be acceptable. If I worked for the CIA and did not go outside the directive I would fear nothing. For those that went even farther than this obviously insidious directive that even the FBI walked away from there should be no shelter. If this will cause career CIA to be timid they should find a new line of work.

    August 30, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Dim

    I think this investigation really is a question of effectiveness, and that Hatch should engage his brain before opening his mouth next time. “They’re making it so the people at the CIA are afraid to do anything,” he says, completely undermining the agency's competence. Pardon me, Mr. Hatch, but do you mean to tell me that the CIA, who are in essence PROFESSIONAL interrogators, suck SO HARD at their job that they're reduced to using torture to get their information? There's really NO other way that they could get a word or two out of these suspected terrorists? They've been doing their job for decades, surely they can come up with something.

    August 30, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Dick

    If no one is above the law, I do not understand why the politicians, courts and law enforcement groups tolerate those who are here illegally. E-Verify would help with identity theft, health care costs and making sure available jobs go to citizens. But they keep coming up with rediculous excuses for not making it mandatory for companies to use. We have immigration laws for a reason, enforce them already.
    The system is not broken.

    August 30, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Chuck

    The Democrats could do nothing of substance while Bush and Cheney relied on the protection of the Republican dominated Congress (remember, Republicans controlled the agenda). And, Cheney took full advantage of this setup when his every decision broke laws and went against the constitution.

    LEST WE FORGET, WE ARE A COUNTRY OF LAWS AND WE SHOULD OBLIGATE OURSELVES TO SET THAT EXAMPLE FOR THE WORLD.

    August 30, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Reality Check

    Also investigate all the illegal immigrants in this country. They are not above the law. Why are there companies still hiring illegal immigrants? They are not above the law. Why is Obama's aunt still in this country? She is not above the law. Why are there several people in this administration who did not pay their taxes? They are not above the law.

    Well at least by the standards of the American people they should not be above the law. Only if you are in a high position are you above the law.....

    August 30, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. travis p

    No one is above the law...unless you're a Kennedy. Then you can rape, murder and still be touted as a great Senator.

    August 30, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Eleanor, Port Orchard, WA

    This investigation needs to go forward, no matter where it leads, and to hold accountable whomever...high or low! It is only the laws of this country that protect us all from tyrrany and dictatorship; which we came very close to having, under Bush/Cheney. It is time to find out all that they did, and like lancing a boil, let the pus run! Otherwise this will be a festering wound on America, and her reputation forever, and it will lead to further destruction of our constitutional protections from tyrrany.

    August 30, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. John

    Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are not Above Law.

    Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should be Tried for:

    1. Misleading Americans into Iraq war.
    2. Creating a false intellignece report that Iraq has WMDs.

    THEY SHOULD BE IN JAIL.

    Why are we still Honoring these Criminals?

    August 30, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    I disagree with Orrin Hatch.

    In order to maintain integrity, honesty, and uphold the Constitution and GenevaConvention, and attract the best in the country, the investigation go to fruition. The TOP person to authorize this stuff needs to be held accountable or it will go on and on.

    I would never work for an agency with all this hanging over it's head. What if they asked me to do something against my Constitution? I'd quit. But then, I'm a REAL American that loves this country, not just profits and freebies.

    August 30, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12