April 21, 2009
"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 ... I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively."
President Obama, during remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, leaving the door open to a probe on Bush Administration interrogation tactics while also expressing his concerns about such an inquiry
"Instead of referring to what anybody might have said ... I think it's important to refer to what the President said."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, dismissing suggestions that Obama's latest statements on possible torture prosecution conflict with signals others in the Administration had sent earlier
The President appears to have a change of heart on looking into interrogation methods under former President Bush, telling reporters that he could support a Hill investigation into how detainees were treated under Bush if it's conducted in a bipartisan way. Though he warns lawmakers to proceed with caution and reaffirms that he doesn't agree with charging those who actually conducted the interrogations, he surprises reporters by saying that it's up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether to prosecute Bush officials who wrote the memos. His remarks come after much criticism, particularly from the left, that not enough is being done to hold someone accountable for the harsh techniques. Press secretary Robert Gibbs tries his best to downplay the apparent flip-flop, but has a rough go of it in his daily briefing.
The focus on torture overshadows Obama's national-service events for the day. He visits the SEED School in D.C. to sign the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, with the ailing Massachusetts Senator standing by his side. Later, Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden roll up their sleeves and get their shoes muddy as they plant trees at a national-park site along the Anacostia.
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