April 21, 2009

President Obama today:

On the one hand, we have very real enemies out there. And we rely on some very courageous people -- not just in our military, but also in the Central Intelligence Agency -- to help protect the American people. And they have to make some very difficult decisions because, as I mentioned yesterday, they are confronted with an enemy that doesn't have scruples, isn't constrained by Constitutions, is not constrained by legal niceties.

Having said that, the OLC memos that were released reflected, in my view, us losing our moral bearings. That's why I've discontinued those enhanced-interrogation programs. For those who carried out these operations within the four corners of legal opinions, or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it's appropriate for them to be prosecuted. 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.

As the New York Times notes, he went on to seemingly encourage Congress to get involved:

Mr. Obama, who has been saying that the nation should look ahead rather than focusing on the past, said he is “not suggesting” that a commission be established.

But in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, he said, “if and when there needs to be a further accounting,” he hoped that Congress would examine ways to obtain one “in a bipartisan fashion,” from people who are independent and therefore can build credibility with the public.

Obviously, Obama's not keen about this because he's focused on moving forward with his political agenda, and he's afraid a partisan fight over holding Republicans accountable for their lawbreaking during the Bush years will derail that.

In other words, it will take courage. We'll be watching to see how much he actually possesses.

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