Speaking today on ABC’s “This Week” program, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said that President Barack Obama has not only no intention of prosecuting individual interrogators for following guidance of dubious legality regarding interrogations, but that policymakers and lawyers involved in drafting the guidance in the first place won’t face prosecution either.
“It’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution,” Emanuel insisted, saying that the practices laid out in the released torture memos aren’t being used anymore. The White House released the redacted memos last week over the objection of officials from the Bush Administration, insisting there was no legal basis to keep the memos a secret.
The memos from the Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel were released (albeit redacted) Thursday after a long Freedom of Information Act battle between the government and the ACLU. They detailed the Justice Department’s legal advise regarding a shocking array of interrogation methods, from waterboarding to insect-based interrogations.
Bush-era officials and their supporters condemned the release, saying that it would fuel fear of recriminations among interrogators in the future, despite the Obama pledge not to charge any of them for all the laws they broke. However Obama also was harshly criticized for the pledge, giving de facto immunity to torturers. In the end the president aimed for a middle ground – providing transparency without accountability, which ultimately satisfied virtually no one.