Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

On Interrogation Policies, Obama Stuck Looking 'Backwards'

By Ben Pershing
In an interview last week before his trip to Latin America, President Obama said of his predecessor's interrogation policies: "I'm a strong believer that it's important to look forward and not backwards." Robert Gibbs reiterated that cliche yesterday.

But while Obama may want to look forward, this week has become increasingly consumed with that dreaded look backwards, as the controversy over Bush-era policies continues. To recap the last week: Obama released four Bush Justice Department legal memos outlining permissible interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. Obama suggested interrogators would not face prosecution. Dick Cheney criticized the release and asked for the publicization of evidence that the tough interrogations actually worked. (Dennis Blair, it turns out, also believes the interrogations yielded "high value information," but that view was edited out of what the White House released to the press.) Then Obama said the formulators of those interrogation policies -- but still not the interrogators themselves -- may face legal jeopardy, and that he would be open to an independent commission to probe the issue. For good measure, a Senate report being released today concludes that Bush officials were preparing to conduct tough interrogations months before getting approval for the techniques from DOJ.

Got all that? As AP puts it, Obama's comments yesterday "all but ensured that the vexing issue of detainee interrogation during the Bush administration will live on well into the new president's term." That may not be what Obama wanted, but the whole episode serves as a useful reminder that the commander-in-chief doesn't always get to control the agenda.

Continue reading at Political Browser »

By Ben Pershing  |  April 22, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: POTUS Events: Off to Iowa
Next: Q & A on Harsh Interrogation Techniques

Comments

Obama should not have release part or all the memos. Obama is spreading hate and discontent. He said he would bring the country together, and this shows is is another lie for read the comments. His comments when on the campaign trail shows americans and the world just what a person he is. He needs to put america first and not dirty political trash first.

Posted by: ednasmith | April 23, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

THE PRESIDENT IS NOT LOOKING BACKWARDS. HE IS ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS. YES HE RELEASED INFORMATION THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED. YES EVERYONE KNEW ABOUT THIS MATTER. YES, NO ONE SCREAMED WHEN THE NATIONAL RED CROSS REPORTED THIS MATTER DURING THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION; SO REPORTING THIS IS NOT LOOKING BACKWARD.
FORWARD MEANS WE ARE NO LONGER A NATION THAT SUPPORTS TORTURE AND BLAME IT ON THE PIONS. YES WE WILL SHINE LIGHT ON OUR NATIONAL POLICIES.
YES, WE WILL HAVE AN INDEPENDENT DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. YES THEY CAN PROSECUTE, INVESTIGATE AND PUNISH.
THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT BECOME THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AS WAS SEEN IN THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION.
THE PRESIDENT IS FOLLOWING THE CONSTITUTION.
YOU CAN EXPECT THE GOP AND OTHERS WHO WANT THE SOAP BOX TO OPEN THEIR STUPID MOUTHS TO COVER THEMSELVES FOR NOT TAKING ACTION WHEN IT WAS FIRST APPROPRIATE TO DO SO. CONGRESS SHOULD HAVE TAKEN ACTION BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT LED UP TO THE WAR.
THE FACT THAT THEY DIDN'T KNOW IS NOT ENOUGH.
THEY DO NOT NEED TO INTERFERE WITH THE INVESTIGATION GOING ON AT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. CONGRESS HAS TOO MUCH WORK TO DO WITHOUT DUPLICATING TASK.
THEY STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN CARL ROVE TO ANSWER HIS SUBPEANA

Posted by: sm98yth | April 23, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

JakeD 2:21 pm Thanks...you reinforced my point better than even I could!!! Bush and Cheney started their scorched earth tactics by calling half of the American population "traitors and terrorists" Remember Dubya's famous statement and a twisted version of the biblical statement "those who are not with us are against us" That's about as exclusionary as possible. It destroyed all the political capital the US gained because of 9/11 and even alienated the moderate parts of the world.

Posted by: yard80197 | April 22, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Neither party occupies the high ground on the torture issue. Neither Democrats and Republicans in Congress who largely stood mute nor the Bush Executive Branch. But I suspect most folks who lost family members on 911 have a very strong opinion on this issue. I wonder what the majority opinion of these Americans would be? It is easy to take the high ground in the comfort of ones recliner and in the safety of a peaceful family existence. But rip that mother, father, son, or daughter from your arms and I suspect you'd have a very different view. My guess? Water boarding would have been tame if you had lost a loved one to a beheading or a burning building.

Posted by: donchew1 | April 22, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

What should really be investigated is the Bush politicization of the Justice Department. Without that, torture, illegal wiretaps, Sigelman, etc. could never have happened. It was almost like how I've heard Nazi Germany described.

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 22, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, many American families have sacrificed their sons and daughters for the sake of their country.

George Herbert Walker Bush, however, sacrificed our country for the sake of his son.

Posted by: rooster54 | April 22, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

yard80197:

Are you prepared for scorched earth tactics in return?

Posted by: JakeD | April 22, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

normanhooben 10:02 am, "the death of America" of which you speak, was effectively started by the 8 years of Bush and Cheney...in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact they have done more to accomplish that end than the terrorists. (Witness the financial collapse of the once-great American financial 'empire'). Real division, real restrictions on personal belief in this country started under them with those who dissented from their views being branded traitors and terrorists. This house is collapsing from within, not under the onslaught of communism as McCarthy believed. That is why they need to be brought to justice. In fact I'd say, not until they are brought to justice will we be able to rise from the ashes.

Posted by: yard80197 | April 22, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

kiara05:

It's better that Obama gets stuck looking "backwards" than going forward with nationalizing American business ; )

Posted by: JakeD | April 22, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I think this stuff is all nonsence! We did what we needed to do after what happened on 9/11..Let's quit pussyfooting around and recognize that when tragedy happens we need to find information quickly by most any means...Cripes sake, we are all a bunch of bleeding hearts until one of kin gets hit..and then we act like mother bears out for the kill...I beleive part of the reason we lose so many soldiers because they can't fire until fired upon!!!! Then we critized if someone gets a little jumpy and squeezes the trigger if they screw up....

Wake up people! What happened has happened..let it go!!!! All congress is going to do with this is blame someone else or try to satisfy everyone with new laws that tie our hands behind our back when things need to be done and quickly..Rght now we have more important things to do in our world then waste time, money,and people on past deeds...Quit being Monday Night Coaches!

Posted by: kiara05 | April 22, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

JRM2:

LOL! You really think that Holder is going to prosecute anyone AGAINST Obama's wishes? Did you read the DOJ Press Release FROM HOLDER about not prosecuting anyone who followed the rules set forth in these memos?

Posted by: JakeD | April 22, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has created trouble for himself by caving to the left"

It's called the rule of law and Obama doesn't have much sway in this since it is a DOJ matter.

Remember the separation of powers?

Posted by: JRM2 | April 22, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Did Zubaydah "clam up" or does Ms. Eban simply not have access to classified information thereafter?

Posted by: JakeD | April 22, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Here's a link to an interview with someone who really did look for evidence that torture works:
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/21/the_story_of_mitchell_jessen_associates

The torture fans don't come off looking very good.

Amy Goodman:
"Dick Cheney is demanding that the CIA release memos that show that these enhanced interrogation techniques were effective. He said, “What we authorized wasn’t torture. But it worked. We got actionable intelligence from these techniques.” Katherine Eban, from your research, what did you find?"

KATHERINE EBAN: Well, from my research, I found exactly the opposite, that there had been an FB—the issue is very active over the detainee Abu Zubaydah, and there had been an FBI interrogation team with him initially, which had basically nursed him back to health after gunshot wounds and used rapport-building, classic rapport-building tactics, which is what the FBI excels at, and it was because of those tactics that he revealed that KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was the architect of 9/11 and also revealed the name of Jose Padilla, and that in fact he was talking to interrogators until Mitchell showed up along with the CIA interrogation team, began imposing these harsh tactics, and Zubaydah clammed up."


Posted by: cturner3rd | April 22, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Dennis Blair also said in the memo that the consequences in damage to the image of the United States far outweighed any information received by torture.

The end does not justify the means. Our country is not a nation of cruel persons who desire to inflict harsh punishment on people.
Are we not a "Christian" nation or did the Bush administration redefine the meaning of the word "Christian" to mean anything they approved of.

Posted by: janye1 | April 22, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

WHY NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA SCRUTINY OF DOMESTIC TORTURE?

A growing body of evidence indicates that cruel and unusual hi-tech torture tactics have been used on detainees AND American citizens -- and that microwave radiation ("directed energy") weapons are being used to degrade the lives of innocent but "targeted" Americans nationwide.

Does the media really believe that torture tactics aren't being employed in the "homeland"?

Please read about the ONGOING "extrajudicial punishment network":

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 22, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

There are plenty of experts in this area who will agree that carrots yield more & better information than sticks.

It's a matter of historical record that torture generally gives people what they _want_ to hear, but not necessarily the _truth_. Non-witches confessed they were witches. The Inquisition didn't get much in real facts, either. John McCain gave the VietCong the names of the starting lineup for the Green Bay Packers as his squadron.

So, even if you can somehow say that a couple hundred waterboarding sessions isn't all that bad, and that it should be legal 'coercion' when our boys use it even if it was illegal torture when the Japanese used it in WWII, just how effective do you really think it is?

It's been a war crime in the US since 1947. Has it somehow become less criminal in the past 60 years?

Posted by: Nightflyer28 | April 22, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Iraq had WMD, but there was no evidence given. Saddam had an operational link to al Qaeda, but no evidence given. The hundreds stuck in Gitmo? The evidence that is supposed to hold them there has been "lost." Every time the neocons want to go bomb something or shoot someone they play the fear card and offer no evidence.

OK, so torture "works?" Show me the evidence. All of you people who support Bush and Cheney on this, show me the evidence. Not more imaginary BS. I want evidence that would stand in a US court of law.

Posted by: cturner3rd | April 22, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Chickenhawks:

Nice to know you're brave enough to support kidnap and torture of "suspects" in the middle of the night but too chicken to deal with any of the facts in the light of day.

Cheney is in this up to his ears. His "let's release more information" statement is simply his opening argument to the jury.

And Ben Pershing - another nice bit of tortured logic that begins in speculation and ends incoherently.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | April 22, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I find this matter very interesting, THIS IS A DIEVERTION BY THE HUSSEIN BUNCH, first they make little statements like "we need to look into what they did at Gitmo",
Then Hussein waits until he starts to get heat from the other side, he has LIVER-LILLIED GIBBS put it out to the Hussein Media that they may look into USA's use of torture. Hussein knew all the while that he was going to release only the part that looked bad for the Bush Administration. They then ,after people didn't buy it ,put out a Hussein Media notice that didn't include a very important statement, reason, it made the Bush Administration look good in the eyes of the AMERICAN PEOPLE.
If this type of practice continues in this so called Administration, we deserve anything that comes our way!!

WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!!

Posted by: jrvaughan | April 22, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I am baffled that any American citizen (let alone the President) considers it anything but our solemn duty as a nation to bring the previous administration's crimes to light and hold those responsible accountable. Otherwise, nothing will prevent future administrations from breaking the same laws with impunity, and they'll have gained the benefit of precedent. Dictatorships and failed states torture suspects and spy on their own citizens. Free countries respect the rule of law.

Posted by: eftc | April 22, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

if you live by the letter of the law half of our government would be behind bars you cant pick and chose what laws to follow

Posted by: getsix1 | April 22, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Cheney was right after all and nice flip-flop Obama. You really caved in to the left for the witch-hunt on the interogators.

Posted by: BubbaRight | April 22, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

My bottom line is this-if these now called "enhanced interrogation techniques" worked and saved American lives, they are most definitely justified.

Posted by: thebink | April 22, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

i would not want to be taken prisoner in the middle east right now with everyone yelling about weatherboarding and torture. i guess everyone has there own idea what torture is like scraping chalk on a black board. or having ones fingernail torn, id say they were abusive towards the prisoners and they should get a letter of reprimand for it

Posted by: getsix1 | April 22, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

This is just another effort to divide snd conquer...Obama has all but declared Civil War Part II...There's only so much the American people will take before they revolt...I think we've seen the beginnings with "Tea Party Part II" and we all know what happened after Tea Party Part I...

I'm into my 70th year on this planet and I'm afraid that the United States of America will cease to exist before they place me into the depths of the earth...

The death of America is a far left agenda and they seem to be doing a pretty good job of chipping away our life support systems...

Posted by: NormanHooben | April 22, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

“The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

Dennis Blair's comment was edited out of THIS report.

Posted by: jmccalli1 | April 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

If he wants to go there -- from now on every person who serves in government will be looking to protect his--- therefore, no one will be willing to make tough decisions when necessary.

We will be more vulnerable than ever.

Get all the facts out - now that several memos have been released. The public has a right to have ALL the information not just selective ones.

Posted by: emgmnaolcom | April 22, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

yeah so?? Where are we going to find a judge/jury that is "without sin, so they can cast the first stone?" Besides they would have to wield more power than the US MIL-Ind complex, AIPAC and the FED combined!!! Only the Chinese have that capability and their hands are just as stained with human blood.

Posted by: yard80197 | April 22, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

OK, we are going to have torture hearings. Will there be an impartial review of the evidence, such as the reasons for the decision to torture, and the threat the Bush administration faced, or will it be a vindictive, get Bush witch hunt? It appears that leaving out Blair's full comments regarding the information gained from the "enhanced interrogations" makes me wonder how fair this investigation will be. Also, will it ever be known what congressional leaders knew of this? It doesn't appear this happened in isolation, but if any of our legislative leaders knew of this, they are not talking now. Maybe they should! If we are going to have an investigation, let's get all the facts out, not just selective ones for partisan purposes.

Posted by: saelij | April 22, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Obama is opening a Pandora box, he should be ready to accept the consequences.

Posted by: DemocracyRules | April 22, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I certainly respect Obama's wish to look forward. We all hope for the future. Our country is a country of law; if George Bush was complicit in instigating the legal memos justifying torture then he should be indicted for war crimes. Bush should have the same opportunity to defend himself as any other citizen. ........


http://thefiresidepost.com/2009/04/16/indicting-george-bush-for-war-crimes/

Posted by: glclark4750 | April 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama has created trouble for himself by caving to the left. Earlier remarks from POTUS and Rahmbo clearly indicated the White House wanted nothing to do with prosecutions.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | April 22, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company