NEW YORK TIMES: Pressure mounted on President Obama on Monday for more thorough investigation into harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, even as he tried to reassure the Central Intelligence Agency that it would not be blamed for following legal advice. Mr. Obama said it was time to admit “mistakes” and “move forward.” But there were signs that he might not be able to avoid a protracted inquiry into the use of interrogation techniques that the president’s top aides and many critics say crossed the line into torture. And while Mr. Obama vowed not to prosecute C.I.A. officers for acting on legal advice, on Monday aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques.
The president’s decision last week to release secret memorandums detailing the harsh tactics employed by the C.I.A. under his predecessor provoked a furor that continued to grow on Monday as critics on various fronts assailed his position. Among other things, the memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times. Some Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, accused the administration of endangering the country by disclosing national secrets. Mr. Cheney went on the Fox News Channel to announce that he had asked the C.I.A. to declassify reports documenting the intelligence gained from the interrogations. MORE
UPDATE: President Barack Obama is leaving the door to open to possible prosecution of Bush administration officials who devised harsh terrorism-era interrogation tactics. He also said Tuesday that he worries about the impact of high-intensity hearings on how detainees were treated under former President George W. Bush. But Obama did say, nevertheless, he could support a Hill investigation if it were conducted in a bipartisan way. Obama has said he doesn’t support charging CIA agents and interrogators who took part in waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, acting on advice from superiors that such practices were legal. But he also said that it is up to the attorney general whether to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who wrote the memos approving these tactics.
RELATED: Cheney pointedly questioned the president’s leadership, criticized Obama’s overseas trips as “disturbing,” said his handshake with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez was “not helpful,” and strongly disagreed with the release of the torture memos. “I’ve been concerned at the way we’ve been presented overseas… What I find disturbing is the extent to which he’s gone to Europe and seemed to apologize profusely, been to Mexico and seemed to apologize there,” said Cheney. “The world out there, both our friends and foes, will be quick to take advantage of that… I don’t think we have much to apologize for.”
Describing the Bush administration’s policy as to “ignore” Chavez, Cheney said that Obama’s handshake was “not helpful… You have people all across South America who are watching how we respond.” He added, “The president needs to provide leadership… needs to distinguish between good [guys] and bad guys.” Finally, Cheney defended the use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques, saying, “It worked. It’s been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives and preventing another mass casualty attack on the US.” MORE
HUFFPO: MoveOn.org will enter the debate over torture investigations on Tuesday, asking its members to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the architects of the Bush administration’s program of detainee torture. The foray represents a new direction for MoveOn, which has previously been focused on pushing the progressive agenda – the stimulus, Obama’s budget, healthcare, cap and trade – through Congress. Groups to MoveOn’s left have long been critical of the organization for not making investigations and prosecutions of Bush-era criminal activity a top priority. The call for a special prosecutor adds MoveOn’s rather loud voice to the growing chorus demanding that crimes be investigated. It’s also an indication that the call for accountability for those who committed crimes during the Bush administration is becoming a mainstream Democratic position, and one the White House will find harder to move past. The group will only deliver the petition to Holder, however, if it gathers 200,000 signatures, making the call a test of the appetite of the progressive base for investigations. MORE