Obama Leaves Door Open For Prosecution Over Torture

Political Punch reports that Obama is leaving the door open for possible prosecution for Bush administration interrogation policies:

President Obama suggested today that it remained a possibility that the Justice Department might bring charges against officials of the Bush administration who devised harsh interrogation policies that some see as torture.

He also suggested that if there is any sort of investigation into these past policies and practices, he would be more inclined to support an independent commission outside the typical congressional hearing process.

Both statements represented breaks from previous White House statements on the matter.

The Bush-era memos providing legal justifications for enhanced interrogation methods “reflected us losing our moral bearings.” The president said that he did not think it was “appropriate” to prosecute those CIA officers who “carried out some of these operations within the four corners of the legal opinions or guidance that had been provided by the White House.”

But in clear change from language he and members of his administration have used in the past, the president said that “with respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that. I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there.”

Obama also discussed how such matters should be reviewed:

Mr. Obama also today said that if there is any sort of commission or investigation into the approval and use of these interrogation methods, he would prefer that it be an independent bipartisan commission and not a congressional hearing, though he was clear to state that he was not expressing an opinion on whether should there be hearings.

“If and when there needs to be a further accounting of what took place during this period,” the president said, “I think for Congress to examine ways in which it can be done in a bipartisan fashion –outside of the typical hearing progress that can sometimes break down and break entirely along party lines, to accept that there are independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility — I think that would be a more sensible approach.”

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