When President Obama released the four Bush-era memos on “enhanced interrogation techniques” last week, his statement made clear that CIA and other intelligence personnel who acted on the memos would not be prosecuted.
“It is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution,” the president said.
But his statement left open the possibility that the Justice lawyers who wrote those memos — John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Steven Bradbury — as well as others such as David Addington, might be pursued for wrongdoing.
However, on Sunday, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, made a pretty unequivocal statement that these lawyers should not be targeted.
“Those who devised policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either,” Emanuel told ABC’s George Stephanopolous.
Here is the full exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruled
out prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were following
the law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policies
should be immune from prosecution?
EMANUEL: What he believes is, look, as you saw in that statement
he wrote, and I would just take a step back. He came up with this and
he worked on this for about four weeks, wrote that statement Wednesday
night, after he made his decision, and dictated what he wanted to see.
And Thursday morning, I saw him in the office, he was still editing
He believes that people in good faith were operating with the
guidance they were provided. They shouldn’t be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that
they were — should not be prosecuted either, and that’s not the place
that we go — as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend
people look at the full statement — not the letter, the statement —
in that second paragraph, “this is not a time for retribution.” It’s
time for reflection. It’s not a time to use our energy and our time
in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
We have a lot to do to protect America. What people need to
know, this practice and technique, we don’t use anymore. He banned
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times