Receiving an enthusiastic welcome today as he paid a visit to CIA headquarters, President Barack Obama told agents not to be discouraged over last week’s public release of memos detailing the agency’s use of illegal interrogation methods during the Bush Administration.
“Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we have made some mistakes – that’s how we learn,” the president said in his speech. The Obama Administration has assured interrogators that they won’t face prosecution for any of the crimes they committed in following the advice of the Bush Administration’s Justice Department. They have also said they don’t intend to prosecute the architects of the illegal methods.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has condemned President Obama for the memos’ release, saying that revealing the illegal techniques would hamper the CIA’s ability to pursue terrorists in the future, as it would give al-Qaeda specific torture methods to prepare their members for.
The decision today to once again minimize the seriousness of the CIA’s history of torture: portraying it as little more than a learning experience for the agency and assuring agents that there would be no negative consequences, has raised the ire of several human rights groups. Amnesty International condemned the administration’s “Get out of Jail Free Card” for people who practiced, under their own estimation, torture.
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