Is Pres Obama right to publish but not prosecute?

gitmoWe know what the CIA were told they could and couldn’t do. And that President Obama won’t be seeking legal action against any of those who carried out the interrogations or who ordered them. Was that the right decision?

33 Responses to “Is Pres Obama right to publish but not prosecute?”

  1. 1 Lino from Malta
    April 17, 2009 at 13:56

    I’m glad to see that Pres Obama is moving away from election mode to governing mode and that he has decided not to prosecute those Americans who were simply doing their best to obtain information on possible terrorist threats on America and the West. Once the honeymoon with Pres. Obama is over, I anticipate another another terrorist outrage that will more than justify the enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorists. I greatly admire Pres. Obama but I believe that he is too idealistic and possibly more than a little naive; at least that was the impression he gave me during his electoral campaign. I am very happy to see that he seems to be taking a different stance now that his desk is where the proverbial buck stops.

  2. 2 steve
    April 17, 2009 at 13:58

    Are you serious that we would consider prosectuting people for making someone be naked or depriving them of sleep? Possibly for the more serious things, but say if someone only deprived someone of sleep. My neighbors have done that to me. Should they be jailed? Please…

  3. 3 steve
    April 17, 2009 at 14:20

    Then again, precedent states that “I was just following orders” is not a defense. So the US prosecuted Nazis who were following orders, but not Americans? Double standard?

  4. 4 Mark
    April 17, 2009 at 14:57

    This latest turnaround by the ‘Man from Planet Krypton’ should not surprise any close observers of his political activities. Unfortunately, Obama is not a saviour – just check out the many sites on the Internet detailing his broken campaign promises (and the recent film ‘The Obama Deception’). Using his Madison Avenue image and his carefully crafted speeches, he has duped most of the people in the world into believing that he is going to give American (foreign) policies a face-lift. He’s not. His government is composed of Wall Street bankers and lobbyists – also from the defense industry – the latter being yet another broken campaign promise (he vowed not absorb lobbyists in official posts in his government). Don’t trust this man who ratified the extension of the Patriot Act when he said he wouldn’t while on the campaign trail. Look out Africa – you’re probably next to be invaded by America under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’. And wasn’t he going to start bring the troops home from Iraq immediately? The last I heard, he was ‘contemplating’ a withdrawal plan that would only take effect in 23 months or so. Comparing him to his predecessor, he is so much more dangerous, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, albeit an erudite wolf. I hope the American public see through the clouds of subterfuge surrounding him very, very soon, and take action to change the North American political system. They must surely have had enough of the system of one party with two factions (Republicans and Democrats), who all represent the same banking and industrial interests, and who are determined to eliminate the middle class. Get rid of Obama now!

  5. 5 Tom K in Mpls
    April 17, 2009 at 15:03

    This is a huge gray area. It has as much to do with sustaining confidence within all hierarchical organizations as it does with morality. When a violation of either the spirit or letter of the law occurs something must be done first to see that it doesn’t happen again, and then to punish all that properly and reasonably can.

    Do you want to go through the time and expense to investigate, prosecute and punish down to the last peon? Or maybe at some point do you choose to recognize the organization functioned as intended after the point where bad leadership set an operation in motion?

    On this specific case, I feel Bush needs to be tried by the ICC for crimes against humanity. Along with others that would probably include the CIA Chief, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. To me the CIA is the problem, equally at fault along with all the other organizations it supposedly protects us from. It would be foolish to cleanly wipe it out, but the trimming needs to start.

  6. 6 Jerry Cordaro Cleveland OH
    April 17, 2009 at 15:05

    I agree that the interrogators shouldn’t be prosecuted as they were doing what they were told was legal (NOT the same as “I was only following orders” defense) They should, however, be fully investigated to determine if they violated the law. The people who should be prosecuted are the ones who mangled US and international law to condone torture.

  7. 7 Mark
    April 17, 2009 at 15:06

    Reply to Lino:

    You expect ‘another terrorist outrage’ – of course, one will be arranged at the appropriate time to coerce legislators into passing yet more laws that cripple the freedoms of the American people still further (and by default those in the rest of the world) , much like the ‘fortunate timing’ behind the anthrax scares when the Bush administration was forcing through the Patriot Act. Sure, there will doubtless be another attack on Americans, but we will all have to ask ourselves who the responsible parties were taking their orders from. There are countless incidents of various American governments attacking their own people, and not only to ensure that legislation is passed by panicked representatives. Your naivety would be amusing if the viciousness of the American government against its own citizens was not entered into the historical record. Please wake up. Obama will find a way to dodge the buck (any buck), that is, if it hasn’t been stopped long before it gets to the Oval Office. Oh, and by the way, don’t condone torture. It’s not nice to be water-boarded – have you tried it yet?

  8. 8 Jennifer
    April 17, 2009 at 15:11

    I find this whole bowing to kings, changing interrogation tactics is part of a big circus. Really, how will terrorists be handled? You’ll have detainees phoning msnbc because they don’t have enough towels! They’ll be mad that their steak wasn’t cooked to their liking too! haha Oh my. Next, we’ll be footing silk sheets!

  9. 9 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    April 17, 2009 at 15:18

    Jerry Cordaro in Cleveland said, “The people who should be prosecuted are the ones who mangled US and international law to condone torture. That’s absolutely right, and Obama was right in deciding not to prosecute the CIA interrogators. George W. Bush and his henchmen should be the only ones to be prosecutes, but I frankly can’t see that ever happening.

  10. 10 Lino (from Malta)
    April 17, 2009 at 15:31

    Generally speaking, I am personally against torture and inhuman treatment. Having said that however, I also believe that if there are sufficiently clear indications of a suspect’s direct or indirect involvement in terrorism, the norms of humane treatment should be waived. After all, the terrorist has waived all norms of decent and humane behaviour towards his/her victims. I believe the world has a very short memory in this aspect and that we are being very naive when treating terror suspects with kid gloves.

    9/11 seems to be but a distant memory whilst the attack on the USS Cole, the murder of Nick Berg, the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, the taking of US hostages by Iran, the Munich Olympic massacre, the Achille Lauro and the other hi-jackings and murders have become historical footnotes for most people today. Although one has to move on, one must also keep in mind that these terrorists have been waging war on our Western democratic society for over 30 years now, something that seems to be escaping the attention of those advocating prosecution of CIA interrogators and “gentle” treatment of those seriously suspected of terrorism.

  11. April 17, 2009 at 15:35

    The interrogations carried out on Guantanamo terror suspects wasn’t just by American agents. It was carried n different countries through rendition. If the countries were the interrogations took place are unlikely to prosecute their agents, it seems logical that the US won’t prosecute its own.

    The right decision should be to close Guantanamo and to give the detainees a fair trial. Holding them without trial will continue to fuel anti-Americanism and to portray the US as the “champion” of human rights abuses instead of human rights.

  12. 12 steve
    April 17, 2009 at 15:47

    Libs, is this the “change” you hoped for????

  13. 13 globalcomedy
    April 17, 2009 at 16:06

    Just publishing is not enough. Obama is an attorney. So he knows how the law can be manipulated to make it fit what you want.

    Every President tries to fill the Justice Dept. with essentially yes people. Now, if you’ve been tortured, UNLESS the govt. admits it to you, you have no protection. What does this say to the torture victims? And, to the Muslim world?

    This is pure political manipulation by the Democrats.

  14. 14 Steve/Oregon
    April 17, 2009 at 16:17

    Obama doesn’t have to seek prosecution of those who put the policies in place and those that tortured people there are enough watchdog groups in america that will take up the charge and force action.
    @Steve YES this is the change i hoped for

  15. 15 Morf
    April 17, 2009 at 16:18

    Surely those who carried out such blatantly (and historically) illegal activities knew what they were doing. These memos were merely legal coverage. If what they were doing was honest and legal, these memos would not be necessary.

    But, that being said, it is those who wrote and manipulated those laws who should be prosecuted first.

  16. 16 Luci Smith
    April 17, 2009 at 16:23

    In my opinion, THIS is the story of today!
    I do not agree with President Obama. I am not the Commander in Chief, but if I was, I would try the people responsible for setting up these guidelines for torture as well as those who instigated the overuse of listening to citizens phone conversations and checking their internet use.
    My action would be to purge the CIA and Homeland Security for these people, who do not respect human rights.
    NO country can call itself a champion of Human Rights when it sets up guidelines for violating them. And violating citizen’s privacy is not the American way, either.In Denmark, all citizens know that all communications are monitored and recorded. If citizens are made aware of that, it makes a difference. If they think that they have privacy, then the government is violating their rights. Obama should not be pardoning these people beforehand. He says that the Bush era was a “Dark time”. Well, President Obama, shed some light on it and let them have their day in court!

  17. 17 Luci Smith
    April 17, 2009 at 16:33

    Just to make the point that most confessions that are made under torture do not prove to be of any use.
    There is NO reason to torture!

    I am also against the death penalty and the idea that citizens have the right to own guns.
    And I believe that if criminals are rehabilitated like they are now in Finland, that they will not reoffend.

    The world is one society. Violence begets violence and peaceful and respectful methods may not make for good news stories, but they certainly make the world better for all of us who live here.
    Violent killers and pedophiles can be locked up for the duration of their lives, but I am against wars and teaching people to kill and rape others.

  18. 18 Tom K in Mpls
    April 17, 2009 at 16:47

    I strongly disagree with Morf on prosecuting those that wrote the laws. This must *never* happen. The reason for this is that there will always be critical hindsight. If the authors of the laws in a segregated system, as is the case in most or all of today’s democracies, need to fear for the the results of what they pass, they will never change anything. The best we can hope for is a slow and steady progress towards what is currently perceived to be ‘good’ or ‘right’. Also that is why the authors of laws have no say over them getting enacted.

  19. April 17, 2009 at 16:55

    It is too easy to judge President Obama’s position in regard to prosecution by using stereotypes from the past. As a US Constitutional expert, he knew the issue of inquest and prosecution would be one of the most important he addresses in his Presidency, both nationally and internationally. As with any good President, he opted to support his nation, despite the problem of how it might look to those abroad.

  20. 20 Tom D Ford
    April 17, 2009 at 17:07

    “Is Pres Obama right to publish but not prosecute?”

    Why should anybody obey the law anymore?

    These were crimes under US and International Law at the time they were committed, and then Conservative Republicans pushed through the Ex Post Facto Law to legalize them. An Ex Post Facto Law is illegal itself under the US Constitution. So not only were crimes committed, Conservative Republicans were complicit in committing them and then in trying to cover them up.

    So. Why should anybody obey the law anymore?

    It has turned out that Conservatives are the real Anarchists, they created Anarchy in our laws in addition to the Anarchy they created in our financial markets.

  21. 21 sibghatullah shakir-Afghanistan
    April 17, 2009 at 17:21

    recently, we’ve seen that Mr Duke, a notorious khmer rouge official was sentenced on war crimes and crimes against humanity, although he argued he had just been executing the orders given to him from others ( high ranking military figures of the regime)
    these CIA officials may also argue the same but if we are talking about the law then no one should be above the law, american lives are not more important than combodians (Duke).
    i personally highly appreciate president Obama’s recent decision which he has taken about outlawing some of the techniques used by US army during interrogation, such as water boarding, facial slaps, cramped confinement and the like, but as he exempted those who committed all these inhumane techniques is itself illegal.
    i would say that president obama if realy has sense of patriotism will one day drag former US president george w bush who had not only authorised CIA officials to practice these techniques but also damaged american image around the globe.

  22. April 17, 2009 at 17:46

    Do you know what being pragmatic means?
    Looking at the facts on the ground and improvising an approach that reflects reality…
    Believe me, if one CIA agent is put on trial, a multiplier effect will be generated that will move up the food chain until EVERY member of the Bush administration is brought trial. And then we will see see a new war envelope the US between the Democrats vs Republicans, KKK vs Civil Rights groups, Whites vs Blacks, Liberals vs Conservatives…
    I assure you that this mesh of conflicting faiths, contrasting creed called the USA will unravel overnight.
    One word; take it or leave it…Obama did the RIGHT thing.
    It’s time to move ahead!

  23. 23 Derek
    April 17, 2009 at 18:36

    Yes, he is. What the CIA officials did was wrong, but they were following what they believed to be sound legal guidance. They can’t be prosecuted for that. The most President Obama can do is forgive, forget, and move on.

  24. 24 Ogola Benard
    April 17, 2009 at 18:45

    There is always time and room for reconciliation and i think president obama has taken the right decision – I mean the men where doing there professional service at limits of instructions. prosecution would remind the same service men who left their families way back about their ordeal which perhaps they have kept secret?

  25. 25 globalcomedy
    April 20, 2009 at 05:14

    No. Publish AND prosecute. If you don’t. what does this mean?

    Obama isn’t doing the job he took an oath to do. This means that he(along with those involved in torture) should be held accountable. This means investigations, prosecutions and punishment.

    But will this be done? No. Why? Politics. Maintaining the Democratic grip on power comes first. All of the “change” Obama’s talked about means nothing. He’s continuing the neocon policies (which include manipulating public fear of “terrorists”). The people at the top can get away with anything.

    What does this say about Obama, the States. And how the Muslim world sees this?

    Under the Constitution, Obama could be impeached for this. But does anybody have the guts to do that? No……

  26. 26 Daniel
    April 20, 2009 at 10:26

    Depriving someone of sleep (contrary to what some listens have stated) for the periods which are alleged, up to seven days I read, can be fatal. There have been many documented cases of people dying from prolonged sleep deprivation. Victims will endure high levels of anxiety, hallucinations and eventually death.
    This form of torture and others used by the CIA are no doubt responsible for the high levels of suicide amongst inmates at Guantanamo Bay. The majority of those held in custody have played no role in any terrorist attacks. Therefore to torture them for information was pointless.
    Mind you, Obama has probably made a very wise decision not to pursue any of those involved in theses torture interrogations just yet because it would have been the beginning of his undoing. To openly attack the establishment at this stage of his presidency would be disastrous. I only hope that at some point in the future those responsible for giving these orders and those who “pulled the trigger” will be held accountable. They have undermined democracy the world over. The ends do not justify the means; it just creates a spiral of hatred and violence.

  27. 27 Ibrahim in UK
    April 20, 2009 at 11:56

    Obama sacrificed American ideals, values and laws for the sake of maintaining good relationships in the intelligence community. Guantanamo Bay, however ugly, is only interrogation “lite”. As dreadful as the torture memos sound, they are merciful relative to what goes on in the renditions in countries such as Syria, Pakistan and Algeria, not to mention the well-documented torture of Abu Ghraib.
    Obama is sending out the message “business as usual”.

  28. 28 john in germany
    April 20, 2009 at 14:07

    Of course he is. Why should he play the boo man?.
    We all talk about fairness, ill treatment of criminals, and so on why should they have it better than the law abiding person?.

    Have you ever thought how you would be treated if you were in the hands of some of those that are asking for nil punishment for committing the most hideous crimes against manhood. No! then its time to start getting some information.

    Have a nice day.
    john in Germany

  29. April 20, 2009 at 14:36

    I think Pres. Obama’s response to this matter suggests a real recognition of the difficulty of the times that America is in and by extension, the res tof the world! In fact, publisihing the names of the perpetrators as well as other related information is enough, in many instances, to help in preventing the continuation of these practises in future, as they help to give a sense of transparency which is often missing from this kind and culture, which also makes the likelihood of acting outside of expected and or required conventions that much easier. The public moral censure sometimes is often enough to illicit appropriate behaviours, in terms of increasing civil society’s awarenss of these issues and how they depart from the norm and, thus, trample on constitutional rights!

  30. 30 Cate
    April 21, 2009 at 03:22

    I’m glad Obama is being honest about my country’s behaviors in relation to terrorism. I am disappointed in BBC for only covering one perspective on this story. The former CIA operative was vitriolic about Obama (and Bush) and their administrations. It would have been a more balanced story if BBC had also address the number of wasted hours from going on wild goose chases when the information recieved through torture was found to be bogus.
    In terms of punishing those who committed these crimes, I believe that we have an obligation to expose those who were masterminds of torture. The citizens of the US have an obligation to get honest about what we stand for (and don’t stand for).

  31. April 21, 2009 at 07:41

    Transparency is not attained by going on a witch hunt, and you’d do great harm to your intel organizations. Obama has chosen to illuminate the episode to prevent more of it, in my opinion the best option. Unless there is stomach in the USA for throwing Bush and company to the “World Court”, it is the most reasonable move.

  32. 32 Danny, UK
    April 21, 2009 at 10:42

    This is not the first time US has shown double standards, Why do CIA get away with it when there Nazi counterparts dont? But this comes from a country which has bombed thousands if not millions over illegal weapons after they carpet bombed vietnam and used Agent Orange chemical weapons on civilians, oh and there support for illegal phosphorous weapons used against civilian palestinians. This is how the rest of the world sees the US and all we see from the Anglosphere is right wing extremist views of bombing and killing and torture trying to be justified in the western media.

  33. 33 Dennis Junior
    April 27, 2009 at 03:39

    No, President Obama is not right to reserved the right to prosecute the accused in the torture era of the previous administration…

    -Dennis Junior

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