President Obama is leaving the door open for prosecutions of Bush DOJ officials who provided the legal rationale to support torture policies.
In comments to reporters this morning, Obama said he didn’t support prosecuting CIA officers who were carrying out the policy. But:
With respect to those who formulated those opinions, I would say that that it is going to be more of a [question] for the Attorney General, within the parameters of various laws. And I do not want to prejudge that.
Obama reiterated that as a general matter, he wants to look forward. But this goes further than anything he’s yet said in terms of suggesting there’s a real possibility that we could see investigations.
Here’s AP’s quick writeup of Obama’s comments…
Late Update: From the White House’s official transcript, here’s a bit more of what Obama said (in a nutshell — if an investigation is going to be done, he’d prefer a bipartisan panel to a congressional committee):
And so if and when there needs to be a further accounting of what took place during this period, I think for Congress to examine ways that it can be done in a bipartisan fashion, outside of the typical hearing process that can sometimes break down and break it entirely along party lines, to the extent that there are independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility, that would probably be a more sensible approach to take.
I’m not suggesting that that should be done, but I’m saying, if you’ve got a choice, I think it’s very important for the American people to feel as if this is not being dealt with to provide one side or another political advantage but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward in an effective way.