Obama Backs Off Opposition to Torture Memos Probe

Prosecutions Would Be Up to Attorney General

Despite his White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel making very public assurances this weekend that he opposed such moves, President Barack Obama now says that he is open to probes into a drafting of the torture memos and that he would leave the prosecution of those who made the legal decisions behind the policies the memos spelled out at the discretion of Attorney General Eric Holder.

With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more a decision for the attorney general within the parameter of various laws, and I don’t want to prejudge that.” Obama said. He has, however, insisted that those agents who actually engaged in the torture should be immune from prosecution for their actions.

The sudden change on the question of the prosecution of policymakers of the harsh criticism he has received from human rights groups, as well as members of his own party, for minimizing the seriousness of the systemic torture practiced under the previous administration. Obama had previously spoken to the CIA about the matter and glibly declared “that’s how we learn.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.