April 21st, 2009
08:39 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Prosecution for 'Torture Memos?'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/obama.memos/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pres. Obama leaves door open to prosecute former Bush officials' who crafted 'torture memos'."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, a dramatic change at the White House.  President Obama is now leaving it up to his  Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute Bush administration officials who drew up policies allowing alleged torture of terror suspects.

Pres. Obama still doesn't think CIA officers should be prosecuted for using the interrogation techniques he has since banned.

But he worries about the debate turning political.

"I think it's very important for the American people to feel as if this is not being dealt with to provide one side or another political advantage, but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward in an effective way." said Pres. Obama today.

Obama's comments come five days after his administration released four Bush-era memos detailing interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, which stimulates drowning.

As Tom Foreman reported last night on AC360°, CIA officers used waterboarding at least 266 times on two top al Qaeda suspects. Pres. Obama considers waterboarding torture.

Do you think the lawyers or others who wrote the legal guidelines should be prosecuted?
Share your thought below.

We'll have more on this story tonight.

We're also getting new information on the medical student accused of being the so-called 'Craigslist killer.' Philip Markoff was in court today, where a not guilty plea was entered in his behalf. Police say he killed a woman and attacked and robbed another - after finding them through Craigslist. His fiance says police have the "wrong man."

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Willis

    If we allow torture we will have become no better than the enemy. What comes after that ?

    April 21, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  2. Michael

    The US celebrated when it shot 3 unsuspecting pirates who MIGHT hvave brought harm to 1 US civilian. The shooters and the Captain were all deemed heroes. President Obama gave the green light to shoot. 3 possible suspects were shot dead. Yet, 3 known terrorists that MIGHT have participated in killing thousands of Americans AND who knew of future plans to KILL THOUSANDS more were waterboarded...NOT shot through the head, are deemed mistreated and tortured? They apparently provided information that led to preventing further terrorist acts. What the HELL am I missing here?

    April 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  3. Peter

    Anderson, The Torture Memos: I would expect that information would be obtained from the methods described, like waterboarding, but how can we be assured of the quality of the information. Because the information was obtained by torture doesn't mean that it could not have been obtained by more humain means. A hand full of people were waterboarded a total of 256 times, incredible!

    Sleep deprivation can be serious stuff but many people suffer from insomnia and no one ever died of lak of sleep.

    April 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  4. Bob D.

    The end justifying the means cannot be accepted.

    Just too many examples in history that this is the wrong path.

    April 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  5. David

    My blood boils when I hear Mr. Cheney claim torture yeilded results that justify this type of crime against humanity. Torture yields only what the person being tortured thinks you want to hear.

    If these repugnant practices are not soundly repudiated, and if those involved are not punished to the full extent of the law, we can never again hold our heads high, never restore our reputation on the world stage. If this is allowed to go unpunished, we are failing the generations of dead soldiers who paid the ultimate price to ensure we are TRULLY the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    What did they die for if we allow torture, and those who tortured to go free while those who refused to torture during the Bush years lost their careers in the military?

    We narrowly steered away from becoming a fascist nation when we elected Barrack Obama but those on the Right would have us go back in that direction – as evidenced by the asburd comments of Ari Fleischer on Anderson Copper 360 and other shows today.

    The Geneva Accords don't allow even those in the lower ranks to go unprosecuted; but this does make them free to speak freely about who at the very top instituted these crimes.

    Mr. Cheney is trying to cover his butt and the Right wing spin machine is only too happy to help him do it.

    I applaud those who stand up to him.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  6. olunaija

    The ultimate question at the heart of the whole matter is this: what is the threshold of morality the free world should NOT cross in the quest for justice?

    That is the reason for the CONSTITUTION, the LAW, the COURTS, the whole system of justice.

    The Bush administration officials certainly crossed the line.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  7. Brenda

    I admire our President that he has higher standards than the previous administration.
    Yes, our country needs to defend our rights but we do not need to stoop to such low standards such as torture. If we adopt these type of tactics then- I ask are we any better than our enemy ?

    Revenge is mine says the Lord Almighty. Thank God for our President's view on this terrible situation and his willingness to change torture tactics.

    I believe this will make us a better country.

    Thank you Mr. President!- May God Bless You and Your family.


    April 21, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  8. Armando

    Unfortunately, I don't think that the CIA should be prosecuted if they were given permission from the President to torture. Now whoever gave the permission should be prosecuted. No matter if it was the President.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  9. Elijah Laws

    What is becoming of America when the people of America debate the use of torture? The belief in force is a trademark of totalitarianism, and it should be everything that America stands against. The Bush Administration and the republican party trampled the constitution, and they have created dangerous powers that threaten the freedom of all Americans. Many of these powers have yet to be undone, and they will be abused in the future.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  10. den s.

    If those that believe it not to be torture why don't they try laying down strapped to a chair with water being poured over their heads. How could they justify killing japanese soldiers that did the same thing to our soldiers with death, but allow the same actions from us to walk free...

    April 21, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  11. Sara

    If under the Bush administration torture was considered an acceptable protocol then I do not see how it would be reasonable to prosecute any of the CIA officers who were just following instruction from the administration. All that said, the concept of Americans electing to torture anyone is well, un American and quite simply against who we are and what we stand for. The concept (noted by one of the other bloggers) that some how torture is revenge and justice to what happened on 9-11 is almost as scary and equally un american. Ethical standards and morals should not be dust in the wind because we have been wounded in fact if anything that is the time when we should rise up, not bow down to their (terrorists) level

    April 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  12. DAVE- Florida

    Are you kidding me ? These are people who want to destroy us in the United States. If water boarding was the way to get information, then so be it. Any way possible to get information about the next attack, or who was involved in the attacks, needs to be used. I can't believe that our Government is thinking of trying our people for war crimes. Inhumane ? What about all the people who died on 9/11, Is'nt that inhumane ? This administration seems to becoming the puppy who everyone now want's to come pet, and make friends with. Is this wise ? I think not. We still have a threat of great proportions out there, and being nice to everyone, especially to People who want to Kill us is not the way to go. God help us in the next attack !

    April 21, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  13. Joyce

    President Truman was never put on trial for killing civilians when he rightfully odered the A-Bomb dropped, killing civilians.......something everyone is against......Bush was trying to defend our country and did what he thought was necessary.......We'll never know how many attacks on our country were prevented.......!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  14. niliad

    Why would Obama do this, with what purpose-He wanted to change the rules Ok but puting us in redicule is outrageous and really speaks monumentous words...shame on him!!!!!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  15. Meg

    Torture is against international law. This is not a political witchhunt, Those who approved of this should be prosecuted. Those who participated from other countries were held acountable. So should we.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  16. Natasha

    I am not condoning "torture techniques"; however, unless we have all been involved in CIA interrogations of potential Al Qaeda terrorists -Yes, the group that has tortured and killed many Americans – this is not our business(nor President Obama's) to prosecute those who PROTECT our country!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  17. jim

    Torturer.. has everyone forgotten 9-11-01, Some 19 guys had lived amoung us, who full intent was to kill us. 2000 Americans were tortured by the burning fire that those 19 caused. Torture, who cares, we didn't get hit again. Do you really think they cared about our dead?

    April 21, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  18. tom

    What a selective, short term memory the obama pundits seem to have. History has taught us the inexact science of intelligence gathering. Couple this with the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour, our country reacted with less knee jerk reaction than in World War II.

    It is a shame that an administration that professed to end political subterfuge, plays the same old political games of the past. I voted for you Obama, why couldn't you be different.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  19. Matt

    What an amazing exchange between Ari Fliecher and the other talking head Democrat. Although I am still up in the air on whether or not the memos should have been released, it is clear that both sides super valid points...

    April 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  20. Dawn

    Did everyone forget about the torture of kidnapped Americans by the terrorists.I'll never forget the videos they posted of the kidnapped Americans and in the end beheaded them for all to see. The CIA's techniques of so called torture seem like childs play compared to what the terrorists would do to an American.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  21. Tommy T.

    Under the Geneva Convention this has already been decided...NO TORTURE. If we do torture no matter what the situation we only open the door for it to happen to our guys overseas. This is not something that we would like to happen.

    Lets continue to be the bigger nation and admit when we have made mistakes...in the end we will be better for it.

    – Tommy T.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  22. Mike Kaiser

    This is a classic "do the ends justify the means" issue. If you don't believe the ends justify the means all Dick Cheney and other's defense is baseless...torture is never justified. Begala just stopped Fleisher dead in this tracks by pointing out that the US executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding US soldiers...that's why Bybee, Woo et. al. are whistling past the graveyard with their attempts to find legal justifications for an obvious crime with many precedents.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  23. Jack the operator

    Part of US military training for certain jobs requires you to go through SERE training in which you may get the water board. If this training is good enough for our servicemen & women I can careless if they do it to them...

    April 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  24. cy, california

    seriously, are these republicans living in this country and in real time? because they would tell u its raining when u can see the sun is blistering hot. they sure see stupid written across my four head.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  25. Paul

    So you there was a bit of torturing going on towards the "bad guys", has everyone forgotten about 9/11 and the daily torture Al Qaida has caused the families of the victims. Torture away I say if it yields valuable intel.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  26. olunaija

    omg! did you HEAR the deafening silence that was Ari's response to Paul's remark that Japanese officers were executed for waterboarding American soldiers during WWII?

    Guilty as charged I tell you!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  27. kathy

    The terrorists are hoping that someone is prosecuted for "torture" so they can recruit more terrorists knowing they can kill Americans and not have to worry about it. This country under Obama it going down the toilet fast. What a shame.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  28. Billy

    How easy we forget the 3000 dead americans and thank god we had a president that stoped more deaths. The obam goverment will have blood on there hands if we are hit again and i pray my family members are not one of the dead. You should take great care in how your network shapes opions on this subject.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  29. CT Progressive

    The question is not whether or not torture is effective, (Even though there is a great deal of evidence that it is ineffective and that those suffering torture will tell their torturers whatever they believe the interogator wants to hear.) it's illegal. It's against the laws of the USA. It's against international law to which the US is a signatory. Our country has prosecuted citizen's of other countries who waterboarded prisoners. No one is above the law.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  30. cy, california

    dick cheney has had more interviews since he came out of office than when he was there. he is now telling us who is doing good or bad in office. this is a guy that made bush look like a dummy. he had his 8 yrs of shame and did not make use of it well. so mr, i see your heart is working well now. leave us to run the country u almost sold for a penny.!!!!!!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  31. LuuLuu

    If he doesn't agree that "water boarding" is torture ... maybe he'd like to give it a try.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  32. kathy

    If the techniques used by our government agency were legal, at the time, then there should not be any looking back. Furthermore, if the result of the CIA's work prevented harm to American citizens, then we should be patting them on the back, not threatening to burn them at the stake.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  33. Susan, Sequim WA

    The only people that are saying these things are not torture are those that participated in it. The only thing more disgusting than the fact that these people committed torture in the name of our country, is that they are actually listened to when they defend it as if it is some polite parlor conversation. THIS WAS TORTURE! Who cares if they got valid info or not. CIVILIZED SOCIETIES DO NOT TORTURE PEOPLE!!!!!!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  34. M

    If torture saved lives because it thwarted other attacks- then I believe we should do it. Honestly- the atrocities these people are willing to commit... and we should have mercy on them?!?!? Hell no.

    Why is Obama even releasing this stuff already as it is?! That doesn't seem like such a smart idea... and then he doesn't release all of it.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  35. Jo J.

    most American have short memories-99% of them wanted to "kick ass" after 9/11. Is kicking butt torture? One would hope they would forget Bush as quickly –dont they have enough other stuff to keep them busy?

    April 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  36. William

    What real useful purpose does it serve for the Obama administration to pursue this? Don't theyhave enough to handle without looking back into the past.

    Bottom line we have not been attacked since 9/11. We are fightinging a different kind of enemy. The rule book was forever changed that day.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  37. Keith Reyes, PhD

    Hi Anderson!
    Why are you falling into this nonsense trap by Dick Cheney about the "gain" of torture to justify torture? Consider this. A guy sticks up the bank, he kills the teller and made off with the cash. He buys a house with the cash, that's the gain. Does this gain justifies the crime? Cheney and his ilk thinks it does! Do you? Ken Henry should smarten up. He seems to be getting ahead of himself!
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  38. charles Blackwell

    It doesn't matter if the torture was helpful in protecting the U.S.
    It was illegal and we will never be able to complain if other
    countries torture our soldiers

    April 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  39. Gary

    There is no such thing as "good torture." Anyone who reads what the Geneva Conventions have to say about torture cannot help but realize that there is no exception for torture that produces good intelligence. All torture is proscribed. It is is a crime. Period.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  40. Patricia Sargeant!

    It's irrelevant if torture produces results.IT IS AGAINST THE LAW!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  41. Rick St Thomas

    Torture: never justified under any circumstances; illegal, immoral; un-American; against everything America stands for. Neither is the Nuremburg defense of "following orders".

    April 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  42. Janet

    The real meaning of torture is going to work on a bright sunny morning and making the decision shortly after arriving to either enter a hallway filled with flames and smoke or jumping out a window from the 70th floor. I wonder if those innocent victims would consider being locked in a room with a bug to be torture?

    Obama is politically naive and he needs to stop re-hashing what went on during the Bush administration. History will address that.

    Only time will tell what history has to say about his decisions.

    April 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  43. Dimples

    Hey there, I"m watching the episode on the "CRAIGSLIST KILLER" – I was on craigslist looking to buy a car and because i'm single i ventured into the singles listing; with disgust i closed the page and have not been back on; i was succumbed to guys nudity (showing their private part), i'm not sure why anyone would use it for dating!!! Ironically enough, I'm renting my house and have thought to list via craigslist but due to my experience, I am turned off!!!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  44. RoseParvin

    Presidents should not go back and punish the past president or they will reduce their own crediblity!Every president walks into the office with the good intent of serving! The difference is the advisors of those presidents.Presidents who do History Changing work do not do it by themselves & they msut credit their advisors. We can learn from who was involved in advising these punishments & who has this mentality in the organizaitons that must bring security with integrity!Regulations of abuse of power that goes even beyond the president to punish censor and rob innocent & honorable citizens must be looked into.
    We have no time to do anything but focus on National & Universal Problem Definaing & Universal Solutions for the backlash of what is still going on in our society will be detrimental! Reform we must!

    April 21, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  45. KellieAnn Rowe

    I say hunt down and proscute who ever needs to be! Make the American people's voice be heard! ( well some of them!) -California

    April 21, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  46. CALVIN

    I think Obama is making a great decision on this matter ..this situation is delicate. The fact that a Ex President of the United State has perform in this ignorance and has taking the life of thousand's of people on his power abusive decision. him and co crooked haliburton owner should both get a ittle investigation on them. After a weapon of mass destruction was develop in his little brain and knowing he was not going to find Bin ladin figured a story the stupid american people will believe he went after the guy that had a problem with his father(Sadamm Hussein) now they want to put the first black president to be a judge of this disaster that the Bush Admi. has done .It is up to the Fed's to conduct a investigation and independent Human Right's agency to handle this and bring it foward to the justice dept.

    April 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  47. Sharon Wright-Toronto

    Barack Obama ran on the pretext of transparency. As President he has become cogniscent of matters not previously entitled to. At some point in the future, if it was made known that he had been made aware of these actions and didn't divulge that knowledge he'd be held in contempt. This is a no win situation which he is handling admirably.

    April 21, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  48. Diane N.

    I guess there will be no justice for the people who died on 9/11 or their families...

    April 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm |
  49. toni in Virginia

    "Should ALL Defense Attorney's Cases Before 'Memo/Torture Judge' File For Judge Bybee To "EXCUSE HIMSELF" from Their Cases?

    The issue of Prosecutions is Not in the White House Power Set – but rather, the DOJ and The Senate. President was wrong to enter an opinion... has now placed power where Constitution places it.

    April 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  50. Isabel

    Good evening, Maureen!

    Philip Markoff … This story is startling ... a medical student! Even that proved his innocence, how will be his reputation?

    The big question is, did they really get the right killer? How sure are they that they got the right man...coz if they don't, they are ruining the persons life...

    What is more surprising, too, is the possibility of students who are not actually suitable for healthcare.

    The fiancée’s Markoff doesn't believe in his guilt. It's really hard to see the person you love and trust, of an hour to the other, in such a situation.

    I wait...

    See you soon!


    April 21, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
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