April 24th, 2009
10:45 AM ET

Torture memos aren’t criminal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/20/obama.cia/art.obama.cia.afp.gi.jpg]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

For someone who insists he is personally opposed to torture, President Obama has a rhetorical knack for it.

This week, Obama tortured the right, left and center with his parsing, hedging, and flip-flopping on newly released Bush-era torture memos and what to do about them.

Along the way, he also tortured logic and consistency, making a total mess of his own position. Only the most die-hard Obama supporters - those who are invested to the hilt in his presidency and find it hard to see the blemishes - could deny this.

Obama angered Republicans by releasing the confidential documents, over objections by CIA Director Leon Panetta and Bush administration officials who worried that it would telegraph to terrorists how far U.S. interrogators are permitted to go in trying to extract information.

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soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. RLWellman

    They can torture us and cut our heads off, but that's okay just as long as we don't torture them. If the President plans to file lawsuits or take people to court over what they did he will find it very hard to find some one else to tale the job. Who is going to join the military when the present administration calls you an extremist?

    April 26, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  2. Cindy

    You have got too be kidding me? President Obama, has just released one of the most crucial parts in our defense system. Why come down on the U.S for using these tactics? Are we suppose to offer the terroists and those affliated a piece of pizza, and ask if they would like to spit on us more? Get Real!! Damn it, these ppl are trying to kill us, they hate Northern Americans, they do not believe in our freedoms and our systems. So they can capture our loved ones, and torture them LIVE on some sick videos, exploit them too the world, and when we finally get one, we are suppose to treat them with respect? It does not define our ethics as a nation, in these days we need to use every measure avaliable. Obama, should not have released any information of that nature, it did not gain him any extra points. That was for the defense's records, our tactics, and now, well he might as well have faxed the damn things over to our enemies! My God I pity the events that are about to unfold!!

    April 25, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  3. Diane Adams

    I am dismayed President Obama opted, against the advice of his top counterterroism advisor and others, to create an issue that did not previously exist to the majority of Americans(only the ACLU and other activist liberals) by the release of these top secret memos and the controversy surrounding that decision. Most Americans have not forgotten the reasons behind those memos, whether they agree or disagree with the former Bush administration. The decision to publicize these memos will not move America forward. It can only cause further division between those who believe our national security takes precedence over the need to inform the public of harsh tactics used to interrogate terrorist during the Bush administration. Now there is even talk of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate(more of our tax dollars at work)and the release of photos showing our military abusing prisoners while they are fighting a war against terrorist in Iraq and Afghanistan(keeping America safe). This isn't the "change" I was hoping for. I would really like to tell this Congress"No You Can't"!

    April 25, 2009 at 2:15 am |
  4. Sharon S

    This is an obsurd Attempt of the Obama Administration to take the heat off of how BADLY they are running the country and drag up old news about the last administration!!

    If this was SO BAD why didn't someone say anything then?
    Well I rest my case and you will all soon find out that Pelosi knew along with All the rest of the Crooks and this whole thing will blow up in their face and I hope it happens soon because thenI want her and all her crooks brought up on charges too!!

    Really Obama you can do better than this to cover up the fact you are weak man who has no experience in this job so why don't you QUIT and take your House or CROOKS with you!

    Karma has a way of catching up to people I have a feeling Pelosi is about to get a dose of hers!

    April 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  5. larry mckenzie

    I served in Viet Nam in 66-67-69-70-71. Our troops were tortued then as in all our wars, police actions or whatever whoever decides to call it. Let our POW's tell you what torture is. It is sure as hell not pouring warter on someone. We should make it perfectly clear that this country will do what we have to to keep this country and our families safe. Everyone reading this would (or at least i hope they would) do what ever they had to do to keep their family safe as possible. Two wrongs don't make a right?? Well maybe not but is sure would sure as hell level the field. Now this really gets me, "Rules of War". What kind of BS is that when only one side has the rule book. Standing by ones morals is good. Unless those morals cost the lives of others. Untie the hands of our troops, trust in them to do the right thing. I am sure you will see that all our military wants to get the job done but wants to be in the same book, same page, same paragraph, and sentence as the ememy. Unlike most of the world we have a code of military justice. It is the law of the military and very strict. It is time for everyone to put trust and faith in those who serve. Most of all those in DC. need to realize that.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  6. Lesley Anne

    It would be nice to acknowledge that the armed services and their lawyers didn't want to use these enhanced interrogation techniques because they believed them to be illegal, breaking the international laws that we signed on to, and not the kind of actions that we as Americans stand for. As for thwarting an attack in Los Angeles a few months after 9/11, the torture techniques weren't authorized until after December 2002, so whatever un-torture method they used to discover and foil that plot worked just fine, without the torture.

    April 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  7. Mari

    (excuse the capital letters, folks)


    Waterboarding has been outlawed in our Nation since 1898. Look it up.

    It is impossible for the United States of America to remain the beacon of freedom and justice, when we turn a blind eye to the horrors and evidence of torture!

    The TRUTH always surfaces! I can not imagine our Nation, simply shrugging its shoulders and allowing Bush & Co., to get away with breaking both American and International laws.

    April 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  8. Keith


    Have you ever served in the military, or worked for a boss that would not accept accountability for his felonious actions. The last administration did irrepairable harm to the reputation of this country and used scare tactics while they hid behind their offices and committed crimes. I hope the AG sends them all to jail- no one is above the law.

    April 24, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  9. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Let me buy you a Free Clue Ruben .......... We are a nation based on the rule of Constituional Law most of us live our lives by those Laws and in th epast at least most of the people in the world admire and respect US (Americans) and our nation because of this. REAL PATRIOTIC AMERICANS SIMPLY DO NOT TORTURE because to do so is an out right betrayal of EVERYTHING GOOD THAT WE AS A PEOPLE AND THIS NATION OF OURS STANDS FOR ! If you naroow minded Right Wing Red Neck MORONS view torture as a 'solution' to any issue I suggest you move to some Banana Republic so you can revel in the 'Full Monty' of it !

    You might want to ask yourself one question if you can off of your Right Wing Soapbox long enough to do so. Ask yourself this ........

    How many of those that were torutured by the US Military and the Bush era Brown Shirt Thugs actually BECAME TERROSITS AS A RESULT of the Bush era NAZI-like Policies. Seems to me that fighting against Torture is more like FREEDOM FIGHTING than you or any of your Right Wing Ignoramuses will ever be able to recognize.

    The ultimate security of the United States as a Secular State dedicated to human liberty , justice and freedom rests on this ! You people on the far Right most certainly would have made great NAZI SS Storm Troopers and Concentraion Camp Guards.

    April 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  10. Terry, TX

    Loved your story...I believe most of America agrees with you...oooh but I am sure we both have ticked off Pelosi, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher...they are going to put us on the list...ooooh.

    April 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  11. J poulard

    Give the man a chance he just started. Stop judging.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  12. Samuel Cruz

    You are just like them, a lie, a big o lie, and part of covering up the truth. Maybe you can't handle the truth. If you would have done your job thoroughly, would have discovered that all this stuff that is being put into the light, is all connected the to Bush administration. A way, in order to maintain control through the illusion of terrorism.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  13. Michael C. McHugh

    One thing I know, it is against military law to torture prisoners or execute them. That's somewhere in the Uniform Code of Military Justice–the UCMJ. That is not something that can be "adjusted" by lawyers, at least not very easily.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:22 am |
  14. Melody

    A crime was commited and no one should be above the law. If one has knowlege of a crime and covers it up, either before or after the commission of said crime are they not complicit in the criminal act? I believe President Obama is trying to do what is right by law for the people and do his duty. Those who try to impune his intelligence forget he is a highly educated attorney in constitutional law. He is trying to ensure the best outcome for our country and restore what is left of it's image. It is time the peoples representatives follow laws, rules, regulations, and policies with honor, dignity, and lawfully. No more deciet, corruption, and self serving.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  15. Michelle - St Augustine, FL

    But does the ends justify the means?

    " what sets us apart from our enemies in this fight is how we behave"
    Gen David Petraeus

    In the Global view we have to observe the standards and values that dictate that we are human beings and treat whom ever, friend and foe with dignity and respect othrwise we are in jeopardy of become like the ones we condemn.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  16. Chotard

    I was floored by what Elizabeth said on the view yesterday. She seemed to be trying to say it was okay in some ways. I don't agree. And please don't show it on the air. IT is a crazy world we live in.

    April 24, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  17. Larry D. Webster

    AC you are 100% on point with this, but as you mentioned, so many are not able, or dont want to admit this fact. For some reason alot of people have the presumption that this President, unlike every other, will make NO mistakes while in office. Politics may change, views may change, but it seems like every politician has a keen knack for bouncing from one view to another, just as often as the wind changes direction. Nobody is perfect, but I don't like the way people pretend to feel one way, while it is "popular" then change when the sentiment changes or the tide turns.

    Larry D. Webster, President
    Media Magik Entertainment Group

    April 24, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  18. Craig

    Obama did the right thing. People need to see with their own eyes what the bush administration was up to for all these years. Bush turned america into the bad guys by torturing people. The Country was already awear of this but President Obama just shed more light on Bush tortures and made bush look even worse

    April 24, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  19. Lavan

    Torture memos aren’t criminal

    yes sir ur rite , in srilanka , srilankan army is using chemical weapons and clustor bombs . i think even that is not a criminal act on ur words obama , its openly known that srilankan gov is doing genocide.

    u still watching these genocid of tamils without a tear ,

    April 24, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  20. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    This is so politically motivated--that it is ridiculous-they rendered a legal opinon--and to try to read between the lines is purely speculative, subjective and conjecture. Imagine if everyone who gave their opinions were potentially "breaking the law." Give me a break with this-–bury it-–you are beating a dead horse-–which cannot make the dead more dead.

    April 24, 2009 at 10:55 am |