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Wednesday
Apr222009

Probes of Bush Officials Loom 

President Barack Obama raised the possibility of prosecuting Bush administration lawyers who approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques on terror suspects.

Mr. Obama, speaking to reporters Tuesday in the Oval Office, also laid out the parameters for a bipartisan commission to examine government tactics used in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, although he was careful to say he wasn't endorsing such a panel.

Together, the remarks put the president squarely in the center of a growing battle between liberals who want to hold Bush administration officials accountable for what they call torture, and conservatives who say Mr. Obama has damaged national security by revealing interrogation secrets.

The president last week overruled objections from Central Intelligence Agency officials and released documents that described such interrogation tactics as waterboarding, slamming prisoners against walls and confining them in cramped spaces -- sometimes populated with insects -- to induce fear.

Mr. Obama drew a distinction Tuesday between those who carried out the interrogations and those who argued for them, reiterating that he didn't think those who followed legal guidance should be prosecuted. "With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general, within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that," the president said.

The CIA memos, he said, "reflected, in my view, us losing our moral bearings."

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