Obama Crosses the Line: Open to Prosecution of Bush Officials
Obama is going way outside the boundaries of his powers, and sadly, we are letting him!! No president in the past has ever had so much gall and audacity as to punish the previous president for policies they don’t agree on. I think people just assume that a president will have the class to do what is right, especially with the world watching, but Obama has proven HE WILL DO WHATEVER HE WANTS TO DO! He doesn’t care if it’s wrong, against the constitution, un-classy, outside the boundaries, or anything else, he just does what he wants. This is setting a terrible precedent that could ruin this country and the lives of people who were serving in the administration. It will also hinder folks from doing their jobs correctly in the future, for fear they will be prosecuted for it later. It’s just like our military cannot do their jobs properly when they have to worry constantly that they will be tried for murder or crucified in the media. Apparently Obama thinks he’s a KING and can’t be bothered with our pesky constitution and rules.
Steady descent into third world
By Wesley Pruden Friday, April 24, 2009
Opening a can of worms always tempts a mischief-maker, but it’s risky business. That can of worms might turn out to be a can of snakes, like Barack Obama’s latest gift to the nation.
The president’s on-again, off-again, maybe-he-will and maybe-he-won’t decision to punish someone who loosened tongues of Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo suddenly threatens not only the CIA interrogators and Justice Department lawyers, but even members of Congress. Maybe it won’t stop there: if the lawyers who offered legal opinions are at risk of punishment for their legal advice, why not the members of Congress who knew what was going on? Why not the secretaries who typed up the transcripts? Why not the interns who fetched the coffee? All were accessories either before or after the fact.
We’re on unfamiliar ground now. No president before has sought to punish his predecessor for policy decisions, no matter how wrong or wrong-headed. Lyndon B. Johnson’s management of the Vietnam War was often ham-handed, as anyone who was there could tell you, and his policy makers sometimes verged on criminal incompetence. But Richard Nixon was never tempted to send LBJ or any of those presidential acolytes to prison. Abraham Lincoln, by his lights, would have had ample opportunity to hang Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but even the rabid Republicans who survived the assassination stopped short of putting Davis in the dock, finally releasing him from imprisonment at Fort Monroe when judgment overcame lust for revenge. Lee was never touched.
Exacting revenge for unpopular policies is the norm in the third world, heretofore more likely in Barack Obama’s ancestral Kenya than in America, more in the tradition of gangland Chicago than in Washington, where we count on cooler heads to prevail when raw emotion threatens to overwhelm sobriety and the undisciplined senses. We recall perceived national mistakes with the sadness of regret and even gratitude for lessons learned, not the frenzied catharsis of a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Mr. Obama, having won the White House fair and square, is entitled to change any presidential policy he chooses, but the vindication of a national election does not entitle any president to exact mindless revenge.
The loquacious prince of Hyde Park should understand this, having eloquently sounded caution and reason on his inauguration as president, promising as he had during the long campaign to “look forward,” not “backward.” Rahm Emanuel, once described as the president’s alter ego (if indeed such an outsized ego could have an “alter”), said as recently as Sunday that “it’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution.”
This was in line with what the president had said all last summer when he was campaigning for the White House, what he had said on his inauguration, and in line with his oft-stated goal of restoring bipartisan civility and mutual goodwill to governing the country. Mr. Emanuel’s reassurance was regarded in Washington as putting paid to an ugly era, an emphatic determination to “move on” to something close to national unity.
The president hadn’t counted on the rage of the jackals on the leftmost fringe of his party, organizations like MoveOn.org, which want only the “unity” of the lynch mob. They demand a hanging and the president promises only to think about it. Ever confident that his golden tongue, with or without the teleprompter, would mesmerize all foes and vanquish all rancor, Mr. Obama then threw George W. Bush’s lawyers to the mob.
Perhaps the president imagines that nobody cares much about what happens to lawyers, but he has set in motion something neither he nor anyone else can control. Some of the Democrats in Congress, eager now to join the mob, will regret what they cry for. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, for one, was a member of the House intelligence committee and sat in on super-secret briefings after Sept. 11. She concedes that she heard about waterboarding but she doesn’t remember exactly what she heard. Just like Barack Obama sleeping through 20 years of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s rabid sermons, Ms. Pelosi dozed through the briefings. Her colleagues on the intelligence panel say they remember her demanding that the CIA do more to get the “intelligence” to prevent another attack.
Republicans in the Senate, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are finally finding their voices. So is Joe Lieberman, a courageous Democrat. If we’re going to have hangings, Ms. Pelosi may be at risk of becoming our most famous female hangee since Mary Surratt paid her debt at the end of a rope for hanging out with John Wilkes Booth.
Stomping on snakes is never pretty.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
Obama open to prosecution, probe of interrogations
By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – Tue Apr 21
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama left the door open Tuesday to prosecuting Bush administration officials who devised the legal authority for gruesome terror-suspect interrogations, saying the United States lost “our moral bearings” with use of the tactics.
The question of whether to bring charges against those who devised justification for the methods “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,” Obama said. The president discussed the continuing issue of terrorism-era interrogation tactics with reporters as he finished an Oval Office meeting with visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Obama also said he could support a congressional investigation into the Bush-era terrorist detainee program, but only under certain conditions, such as if it were done on a bipartisan basis. He said he worries about the impact that high-intensity, politicized hearings in Congress could have on the government’s efforts to cope with terrorism.
The president had said earlier that he didn’t want to see prosecutions of the CIA agents and interrogators who took part in waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, so long as they acted within parameters spelled out by government superiors who held that such practices were legal at the time.
But the administration’s stance on Bush administration lawyers who actually wrote the memos approving these tactics has been less clear and Obama declined to make it so. “There are a host of very complicated issues involved,” Obama said.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said in a television interview over the weekend that the administration does not support prosecutions for “those who devised policy.” Later, White House aides said that he was referring to CIA superiors who ordered the interrogations, not the Justice Department officials who wrote the legal memos allowing them.
The president took a question on the volatile subject for the first time since he ordered the Justice Department to release top-secret Bush-era memos that gave the government’s first full accounting of the CIA’s use of waterboarding – a form of simulated drowning – and other harsh methods criticized as torture. The previously classified memos were released Thursday, over the objections of many in the intelligence community. CIA Director Leon Panetta had pressed for heavier censorship when they were released, but the memos were put out with only light redactions.
Far from putting the matter in the past, the move has resulted in Obama being buffeted by increased pressure from both sides.
Republican lawmakers and former CIA chiefs have criticized Obama’s decision, contending that revealing the limits of interrogation techniques will hamper the effectiveness of interrogators and critical U.S. relationships with foreign intelligence services.
The release also has appeared to intensify calls for further investigations of the Bush-era terrorist treatment program and for prosecutions of those responsible for any techniques that crossed the line into torture.
Obama banned all such techniques days after taking office. But members of Congress have continued to seek the release of information about the early stages of the U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror under former President George W. Bush. Lawsuits have been brought, seeking the same information.
Obama said an investigation might be acceptable “outside of the typical hearing process” and with the participation of “independent participants who are above reproach.” This, he said, could help ensure that any investigation would be a tool to learn, not to provide partisan advantage to one side or another.
“That would probably be a more sensible approach to take,” Obama said. “I’m not saying that it should be done, I’m saying that if you’ve got a choice.”
The president made clear that his preference would be not to revisit the era extensively.
“As a general view, I do think we should be looking forward, not back,” Obama said. “I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations.”