May 25, 2009

It's Definite: President Obama Will Not Prosecute Members of Bush Admin for "Torture" Crimes

Monique Chartier

So reports Newsweek's Michael Isikoff in a fascinating article posted last Thursday. (H/T Newsbusters.) The decision was announced during an off-the-record meeting that President Obama held last Wednesday with some disgruntled supporters.

Administration officials organized the session just a few days [prior], summoning the leaders of groups such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU, as well as several liberal law professors. As a sign of how seriously the White House took the matter, just about all of Obama's senior staff were there, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, White House counsel Gregory Craig, senior adviser David Axelrod and [Attorney General Eric] Holder.

* * *

It was at that point, toward the end of the meeting, that one attendee raised the idea of criminal prosecution of at least one Bush-era official, if only as a symbolic gesture. Obama dismissed the idea, several of those in attendance said, making it clear that he had no interest in such an investigation. Holder—whose department is supposed to make the call on criminal prosecutions—reportedly said nothing.

The other fascinating aspect if this is the silence by the mainstream media. Where are the headlines, the blaring chyrons, the brisk debates among talking heads about this significant development? NewsBusters P.J. Gladnick theorizes that they are, essentially, covering up for the president.

And Rachel Maddow has provided us with another reason why there has been almost no coverage of this meeting in the MSM. Because it would show Obama's deceptiveness. Saying the matter of prosecutions were up to the Attorney General in public while in private making the decision to cut them off.

* * *

So it is fascinating to once again see a story being widely discussed in the Blogosphere while being almost completely ignored in the MSM. Obama saying one thing in public and quite another in private. And that is why the mainstream media is reluctant to report on it.

There is no doubt a reluctance on their part to show the president in a bad light, though I would disagree with P.J.'s characterization of the President's actions; i.e., the negative quality that the press is not anxious to expose. Rather than "deceptiveness", it would be more accurate to say "propensity to make decisions in excess haste and without thinking things through".

His handling of this matter is a good example. He released the four memos about post-911 enhanced interrogations and announced his intention to prosecute almost fliply and as a political reflex. However, after some reflection - upon the participants' motives? upon the implications for national security? upon the potential political blowback to members of his own party? - he has reached a more prudent conclusion. For this, he is to be applauded.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason. what will Whitehouse do with his day?

Seems to me he found out about those memos that Cheney wanted him to release if there were to be an intelligent discussion on 'torture' crimes.

To me, anything that gets the job done isn't torture, it's an interrogation technique to extract information from an uncooperative detainee.

Posted by: Roland at May 26, 2009 12:31 AM

Great. Now read about the Tuskegee experiment between 1932 and 1972 and perhaps you might re-think your criterion - if it produces results it's alright.

Letting nearly 400 illiterate men die of syphilis with no treatment to learn about the disease from their autopsies could be classified as "an enhanced examination technique for the greater good". Right.

Posted by: Harvey Waxman at May 26, 2009 6:40 AM

Thank you, Harvey Waxman.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at May 26, 2009 7:53 AM

OTL,Harvey-FWIW the Tuskegee victims were US Citizens who had done nothing wrong but get sick,and were handed death sentences in effect.
The three waterboarded terrorists were not innocent by their own admission and were not killed nor seriously injured.
I am glad only three men were waterboarded,because it is not acceptable to use in a generalized way on detainees as a "fishing expedition".
The use of the technique seems to have been done in a disciplined way only in the most extreme instances.
The Abu Ghraib incidents were not government policy and were carried out by poorly supervised personnel.The blame there lies with the commanding officers for sloppy oversight.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 26, 2009 10:24 AM

Monique, I had a feeling this would happen, and talked about it with friends around the coronat.... I mean, the inauguration.

At the time, I said that I had a feeling Obama would start getting the kind of intel briefings and other information that President Bush received for 8 years, and discover in an abrupt fashion that the world he (Obama) lived in previously doesn't actually exist. That the world is a far different, more complicated, more dangerous place than he ever dreamed of.

I said that with this information in hand, we (and the left) would begin seeing decisions and policies that were not what we (or they) necessarily would have expected based on the campaign. Liberals expected him to go in on Day 1 and start waving the magic wand, washing away everything Bush did. They were salivating over it.

Instead, I think what's happened is that with the benefit of what we suspected and Bush actually knew, Obama discovered Bush wasn't so crazy after all. Acting (or not, as the case may be) on this revelation is going to cost him serious political capitol within his own party. It remains to be seen how that affects his agenda- and second campaign- going forward.

Posted by: EMT at May 26, 2009 6:52 PM

" ... Obama would start getting the kind of intel briefings and other information that President Bush received for 8 years, and discover in an abrupt fashion that the world he (Obama) lived in previously doesn't actually exist."

Too bad they can't brief presidential candidates on some of this stuff, EMT! It might cut way back on unrealistic promises made on the campaign trail.

Posted by: Monique at May 26, 2009 9:16 PM

Maybe. But would YOU want Joe Biden getting classified intelligence briefings any earlier than legally required? He's been there less than 6 months and the whole world already knows where the VP's bunker is.

Imagine the likes of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader with that kind of information. Good lord.

Posted by: EMT at May 27, 2009 12:55 AM
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