Pressure mounted on President Obama on Monday for more thorough investigation into harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, even as he tried to reassure the Central Intelligence Agency that it would not be blamed for following legal advice.The pressure?
...human rights activists, Congressional Democrats and international officials pressed for a fuller accounting of what happened. Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote Mr. Obama asking him not to rule out prosecutions until her panel completed an investigation over the next six to eight months.And:
The Senate Armed Services Committee plans to release its own report after two years of looking at the military’s use of harsh interrogation methods. And the Democratic chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are pushing for a commission to look into the matter. At the same time, the administration faces pressure from abroad. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations’ chief official on torture, told an Austrian newspaper that as a party to the international Convention against Torture, the United States was required to investigate credible accusations of torture.Then there's:
Others pushing for more investigation included Philip D. Zelikow, the former State Department counselor in the Bush administration. On his blog for Foreign Policy magazine and in an interview, Mr. Zelikow said it was not up to a president to rule out an inquiry into possible criminal activity. “If a Republican president tried to do this, people would be apoplectic,” he said.Here's something else from Zelikow:
Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., who was chief counsel to the Church Committee, the Senate panel that investigated C.I.A. abuses in the 1970s, said Mr. Obama was “courageous” to rule out prosecutions for those who followed legal advice. But he said “it’s absolutely necessary” to investigate further, “not for the purpose of setting blame but to understand how it happened.”
I am not eager to see any government officials prosecuted for crimes because of their zeal to protect their country. But crimes committed for worthy motives are still crimes, and we have institutions to sort this out.He then posits 5 possibilities:
So has anyone beside me found it troubling that President Obama is making announcements on who should be prosecuted for possible crimes? Whatever one's view of the matter, didn't the administration ardently announce its dedication to depoliticizing the Department of Justice? So why is it proper for the president to tell Attorney General Eric Holder what he should conclude?
- No unlawful conduct
- Unlawful conduct but with a credible defense
- Unlawful conduct with an inadequate defense
- Unlawful conduct, no defense, but Obama pardons
- No pardon, but Obama tells AG Holder what legal options he has.
Can you imagine what folks would say if a Republican president exercised option #5? I wish President Obama would just play this straight. He also does no favor to suspects if he politicizes the question of their innocence.Investigate. Prosecute. Do it publicly and fairly. It's the American way. It's also the law.