Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bush vs Obama: Torture or Counterterrorism. Obama says "Nobody Above the Law", May Consider Prosecution for Bush Admin, Bush Defends Anti-Terror Acts

Bush Defends Counter-Terrorism Practices

"I did not sell my soul for the sake of popularity."
--President Bush on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

THE PRESIDENT: My presidency was defined by the attack on the country, and therefore used the powers inherent in the Constitution to defend this country.

BRIT HUME: Did you find them intact?

THE PRESIDENT: I found — yes, I did find the presidential powers intact. I have at times used those powers in ways that people had not anticipated. For example, the idea of, within the law, being able to have our folks question known killers about their intention. Now, many of the decisions I made are being adjudicated. And of course I have lived by and future Presidents will live by the decisions of the Supreme Court. But as a wartime President — what remained intact, by the way, was the Constitution, which we have honored.

HUME: It has been argued that what you sought to do is exactly expand the powers of the presidency, or in the eyes of some — perhaps in the eyes of the Vice President — to restore them. How do you see that?

THE PRESIDENT: I see the relationship between the presidency and the judiciary and the legislative branch as constantly changing throughout the history of the country. And the key thing that's important is that there still be checks and balances. And so however I interpreted the Constitution, I kept in mind what the Constitution said, the legality of what my decisions were; but I also fully understood the checks and balances inherent in our system.

HUME: Now, you've spoken of the tools that you believe you put in place and which your successor will now inherit. How worried are you — if at all — that those tools will be corroded, relinquished in the — because some of them have been —

THE PRESIDENT: Slightly criticized. (Laughter.)

HUME: Well, to say the least.

THE PRESIDENT: I would hope that the team that is — has the honor of serving the country will take a hard look at the realities of the world and the tools now in place to protect the United States from further attack. I would hope they would take a sober assessment — and I believe they will.

HUME: And what will they find?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, they will find that with a considerable amount of care and concern for civil liberties, for example, that I have put in place procedures that will enable the professionals to better learn the intentions of al Qaeda, for example. They will realize, I think when they really study the issue carefully, that we have gone from an administration that was accused of not connecting dots to an administration that is connecting dots, you know, linking pieces of information to better protect the country, with the civil liberties of our citizens in mind.

HUME: Now, the enhanced interrogation techniques, as some call them — torture, as others call them— are being argued over to this hour. Some are saying you never get any good information by rough stuff, and others have said — more than once — that if we hadn't used these techniques we wouldn't have had vital information and attacks could have been or would have been carried out on this country. Your view of that.

THE PRESIDENT: My view is that the techniques were necessary and are necessary to be used on a rare occasion to get information necessary to protect the American people. One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was the mastermind of the September the 11th, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on our soil.
And I'm in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him, and they gave me a list of tools. And I said, are these tools deemed to be legal. And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made. And I think when people study the history of this particular episode they'll find out we gained good information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in order to protect our country.

HUME: Well, how good and how important? And what's the —

THE PRESIDENT: We believe that the information we gained helped save lives on American soil.

HUME: Can you be more specific than that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have said in speeches — as a matter of fact, when this program was leaked to the press I actually gave a speech that said to the American people, yes, we're doing this. But I also emphasized we were doing it within the law.
Look, I understand why people can get carried away on this issue. But generally they don't know the facts. And by the way, one of the interesting things that did take place is before anything happened on this particular program that we did brief members of Congress. We had an obligation to share information with the legislative branch. And all I can tell the American people is we better have tools in place that are legal and that can help us protect the American people from an enemy that still exists.
My concern is — not for President-Elect Obama, because I'm confident that he understands the nature of the world and understands the need to protect America. But I am concerned that America, at some point in time, lets down her guard. And if we ever do that, the country will become highly vulnerable.

Obama Leaves Prosecution of Bush Officials on The Table

On "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos, President-Elect Obama shared his different take on The War on Terror. (For the record, when did Clinton architect George become the arbiter of law and morality?)

"I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution. That is not only the right thing to do but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values."

When asked about alleged abuses under Bush, (Stephanopoulos showed a question submitted to transition website by Bob Fertik of New York who runs the Web site asks Obama, "Will you appoint a special prosecutor -- ideally Patrick Fitzgerald -- to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?") Obama said this:

"We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law." Obama said. "But my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn't mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation's going to be to move forward."

"When it comes to my attorney general he is the people's lawyer... His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people, not to be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So, ultimately, he's going to be making some calls, but my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past."

One kept America safe for over 7 years and another wants to prosecute people for keeping America safe.

People are just different, I guess.

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