Obama Orders Release of Secret Memos But Strongly Signals That He Will Block Any War Crimes Investigation

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamatorture -abu ghraibTo his credit, President Barack Obama has rejected efforts at the CIA and National Security Council to prevent the disclosure of memos detailing torture techniques. However, the statement below appears to lay the groundwork for a decision to block any investigation into war crimes. While insisting at we are a “nation of laws,” Obama seems to refer to enforcing those laws as acts of “retribution.” It is a position that is strikingly similar to the view of pro-Taliban leaders in Pakistan who have blocked war crimes prosecutions in that country. In the meantime, Attorney General Eric Holder has promised that no CIA employee who tortured detainees will be prosecuted. I discussed the memos on this segment of Rachel Maddow.

Holder’s anouncement further shows the obstruction of any serious investigation since the threat of prosecution is a critical tool used by investigators to gain cooperation from witnesses. It is also a curious position for the Attorney General who is saying that he will not allow people to be investigated for the commission of federal crimes despite his oath to enforce those very laws without political manipulation or interference.

Office of the Press Secretary
April 16, 2009

Statement of President Barack Obama on Release of OLC Memos

The Department of Justice will today release certain memos issued by the
Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 as part of an ongoing
court case. These memos speak to techniques that were used in the
interrogation of terrorism suspects during that period, and their
release is required by the rule of law.

My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one
of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these
interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our
moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the
protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy
as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security
and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are
already a thing of the past.

But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents
today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I
also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes
carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is
classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for
that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However,
after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National
Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances
surround these memos and require their release.

First, the interrogation techniques described in these memos have
already been widely reported. Second, the previous Administration
publicly acknowledged portions of the program – and some of the
practices – associated with these memos. Third, I have already ended the
techniques described in the memos through an Executive Order. Therefore,
withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in
the public domain for some time. This could contribute to an inaccurate
accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions
about actions taken by the United States.

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who
carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from
the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.
The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on
the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung
and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single
American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as
they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence
that they can do their jobs.

Going forward, it is my strong belief that the United States has a
solemn duty to vigorously maintain the classified nature of certain
activities and information related to national security. This is an
extraordinarily important responsibility of the presidency, and it is
one that I will carry out assertively irrespective of any political
concern. Consequently, the exceptional circumstances surrounding these
memos should not be viewed as an erosion of the strong legal basis for
maintaining the classified nature of secret activities. I will always do
whatever is necessary to protect the national security of the United

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong
views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark
and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges
and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and
energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in
America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values,
and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the
forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common

The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act
in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our
ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we
have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never
take place again.

The refusal to allow an investigation by a special prosecutor obstructs the enforcement of these laws, including our commitment under treaties. Obviously, Obama and Holder cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for refusing to prosecute but they are obstructing the enforcement of these laws in violation of these international agreements.

For the latest on the story, click here and here.

96 thoughts on “Obama Orders Release of Secret Memos But Strongly Signals That He Will Block Any War Crimes Investigation”

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Two_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Clause_8:_Oath_or_Affirmation

    Further information: Oath of office of the President of the United States

    “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    As I noted again last night, even Leon Panetta does not regard this as the ‘end of the road’ on these issues. In his words, there will be more requests and inquiries from the public and Congress. The least the CIA can offer is a buffer to costly prosecution and potential judgements.

    Also, as I’ve noted previously several times, there is no liability insurance policy that covers illegal acts. To afford coverage or deny it for defense and/or indemnification, one would have nail down the specific time line of events for the supposed reliance on ‘Dummies on Justice’ memos, as the current law, at the time.

    At this juncture, my sense is to expect a pissing contest
    -defensively drawn out and stinky to boot and definitely NOT
    what we need at the moment!


  2. Local Governments Begin Investigations of Obama Crimes
    Subject: Criminal investigation of Barack Hussein Obama aka Barry Soetoro

    Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 20:47:49 -0700 (PDT)

    Beaumont Police Department
    Beaumont TX
    Attn: Officer Ronald Dischler

    Dear Mr. Dischler,

    My name is Dr. Orly Taitz, I am an attorney representing over 130 members of the US military, 10 state representatives, ambassador Keyes and other citizens, questioning legitimacy of Mr. Barack Hussein Obama aka Barry Soetoro for presidency. Among them are following citizens of the State of Texas:

    LTC Chetwin Hurd
    SGNT Morgan Samuel Ward
    Capt. Ralph H. Jenkins
    SGNT Jeffrey Wayne Rosner
    LCDR Jeff Graham Winthrope
    Mr. Richard D. Sanders
    Mrs. Jody Brockhausen

    While doing research of this case, I’ve uncovered a number of instances of suspected illegal and criminal activity by Mr. Obama and his supporters. As an officer of the court I have a solemn duty to report such activity to the law enforcement and demand immediate investigation, subpoena of the records and prosecution to the full extend of the law.

    Mr. Obama has availed himself to the jurisdiction of the state of Texas as he put his name as a candidate for president on the ballot here and additionally he came and campaigned here.

    Please see attached reports, that should help in your investigation. Reports contain a computerized image of Certification of life birth for Mr. Obama and Certification of Selective Service and statements from experts, showing those documents to exhibit numerous signs of forgery.

    It is my understanding that in the State of Texas forgery is a class C felony that carries up to 10 years in the state penitentiary. On two counts of forgery Mr. Obama might be facing up to 20 years in jail in the state of Texas alone, since those counts run consecutively. Since Mr. Obama has availed himself to the jurisdiction of 50 states with similar statutes, he might be facing 1,000 years in state penitentiaries around the country on forgery charges alone. Additionally, there are numerous counts of suspected fraud, voter fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, corruption of a public official, intimidation, interference with the system of justice, social security fraud, tax fraud, perjury and other related crimes. As the National Security is at stake, I would request your immediate attention to this matter and expedient report with a report number of the suspected criminal activity and subpoena of Mr. Obama’s vital records, such as his original vault long version birth certificate in Hawaii, passports from Indonesia and Kenya, immigration records, certification of selective service, school registration from Occidental College, Harvard university and Columbia University.

    I am attaching a 164 page dossier of suspected illegal activity. You can find more documents for download on my blog http://www.repubx.com

    Dr. Orly Taitz Esq

    26302 La Paz ste 211
    Mission Viejo Ca 92691

    29839 S. Margarita Pkwy
    Rancho Santa Margarita Ca 92688

    ph. w- 949-586-8110 c- 949-683-5411
    fax 949-586-2082


    From: “ronald dischler”
    To: dr_taitz@yahoo.com

    Ms. Taitz,

    I have received your email and I will use it to further my investigation into the Criminal matter concerning Barack Hussein Obama. The only thing that I will be able to file on is crimes committed in the City of Beaumont Tx.. However, with your information, I will attempt to add to the criminal charges or bring it to the attention of someone who can go further. I am a very resourseful individual and I guarantee that I will fight to the end. I do not enter into this matter lightly or with blind abandon. I do this because I too took an oath as a Police Officer to defend the Constitution of not only the great state of Texas but also the great nation of the United States of America. [Redacted]

    Again, thank you for the information and I will be back in touch with you very very soon. [Redacted] There is another Officer who works in C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) who would be more than willing to join me in pursuing this investigation. I have as yet to tap this resource.

    If you have any more questions, or you obtain any more information that you think would be beneficial to my case, please feel free to contact me anytime of the day or night.

    Thank you,
    Officer Ronald C. Dischler Sr.
    Beaumont Police Dept.
    255 College
    Beaumont Tx., 77701

  3. Is the 9th circuit still more liberal that the other courts? Or is this symbiotic of the entire administration?

  4. Mike S,
    I think he and Holder are orchestrating this so that prosecution will come, but be seen as the will of the people, rather than the retribution of political partisanship. Given the buffoons in the MSM and the Village Idiots, bowing to public pressure with seeming reluctance would provide excellent political cover. Isn’t it interesting the pace at which these new revelations keep appearing?

  5. This is not going away,the pressure to prosecute is overwhelming.
    Obama must feel caught in a rock and a hard place in fear of political backlash if he would to proceed with bringing those
    culpable of clear and outright torture.On the otherhand if he
    doesn’t then he faces what he is facing now,growing outrage over
    the hypocracy of his campaign promises to uphold the United States of America as a Nation of Laws as Jill pointed out.
    Obama knows that this is going to lead to George W. Bush’s
    doorstep if he orders prosecution and that is what he is afraid of.

  6. Lynn,
    Go for it! Perhaps this is all stagecraft building a national momentum for prosecution, perhaps not, but what we all can do is exert pressure any way we can and see what happens. In its’ beginnings Watergate was a slow trickle that became a flood. Is it really coincidence the way this information is being slowly released?

  7. I hope that millions saw you on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. As usual, you described with clarity what is at stake here, and what the law requires. I have signed 4 petitions and used Facebook to urge others to do the same. I have also written to the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/). But I feel despair. Where has the Principled Obama gone? How can we reach him? We must all act and act now to send him the message that he is not moving the country forward, but is instead perpetuating the darkest days of the Bush era. I think that we must do more, and so I am considering circulating a printed petition in my small town. . .if we can get a few hundred people in a rural Western town to tell him this is wrong, might that penetrate what seems to be his hard-headed disregard for justice?

  8. Matthew N,

    I’m very glad that you serve in our military. What you wrote shows the best of what it means to serve. Thanks for posting here.

  9. Matthew and Urban,
    What we’re talking about is a battle for the soul of this country. This is an ongoing war between those who would enslave us in the interests of their greed/power and those who would see our constitution reign supreme in the Land. I can understand your being disheartened, but the war for justice is still being waged. Marines aren’t supposed to quit when the going gets rough and people from City’s know that sometimes life is a daily battle. As I said in another comment we’re only 3 minutes into the 1st Quarter and there is a whole lot of time left on the clock.

  10. I’m saddened and hurt by President Obama’s position. I had such high hopes for real change. Now it seems that nothing will change except the names and faces. A nation of laws can not ignore the rule of law. Nor can we set such a poor example for others to follow. While this episode is painful, it is one that needs to be addressed by an investigation and prosecution. Otherwise, we are no better than some countries that did the same or worse,(e.g., Liberia, Guatemala, Argentina,etc.)and were prosecuted for their actions. We can’t have it both ways.

  11. This just leaves me pretty disillusioned with the whole political process in our country. I didn’t vote for Obama, but I certainly saw his presidency as the lesser of the two evils. As a Marine, I was taught to respect life and to only resort to force when force was presented to me. We were taught to obey orders, but to remember that our moral compass is what makes us better than our enemies. It is our solemn duty to object to carry out any unlawful order. This is pounded into you (or at least it was to me) throughout my military career. These CIA officials who carried out this torture have no excuse. I place some blame on them, and believe they should be punished, but it is often very hard to stand up to authority. They can be punished and forgiven once they’ve paid the price. The people who cannot be forgiven, however, are the politicians and officers who ordered/approved/allowed this to happen. Unfortunately, we will probably never know who these people really are. This is a sad day for our nation.

  12. Thanks for some perspective, Mike S. I remember my anger watching Humphrey embracing Mayor Daley at the 1968 convention. My tongue was seriously bleeding when I pulled the lever for Humphrey that November. I’ll try to remember that moment while we wait to see how this plays out.

  13. BVA,
    I’m sorry to say you are probably not a troll, but merely a fool who thinks he’s radical. You don’t get the fact that President Obama’s actions should not be judged on a racial basis, but on the political merits. My issue with you, other than your excess of hyperbole, is that you seem to want to condemn the man based on his skin color rather than his policies. That is plainly out and out stupid and is no doubt informed by your thinking of yourself as a real radical. guess what, real radicals aren’t that dumb. If, as is implied you are a person of color and don’t feel a sense of accomplishment that the Country has elected a Black man as President, then you are ignorant of your own self interest. Try actually thinking through your ideas rather than giving “hipper than thou screeds that frankly are more silly than politically astute.

  14. Mespo backed by Patty caution that the issue still isn’t settled and that we’re in the 4th Quarter, so we need to wait until the game is done before making final judgments. I agree with both of them but I would suggest that we are about 3 minutes into the 1st Quarter. The whole back and forth of this argument is really about parsing words, fueled by suspicions that are grounded by the disaster of the last 8 years.

    I believe we have a right to be suspicious, a duty to speak out, a need for the public pressure led by JT, ACLU, etc., and a healthy basis to be skeptical of the backbones of the politicians from both parties. Righteous anger is needed and we see here, with trollish exceptions, that we have it in abundance.

    Nevertheless, we are reading into a politician’s words. The President is walking a difficult line and no doubt trying to finesse it. I was at one point a Director in the NYC Human Resources Administration, with a staff of more than 300, located in about 15 different offices Citywide. The project we were working on was an effort to save NYC from $150 Million in penalties, so as you can imagine I had full authority. Do any of you have any idea how hard that was to ensure that everyone was on the same page, especially because firing wasn’t an option? President Obama, besides only 3 months running this huge government, is dealing with Secret Agencies, with secret funding and secret mandates. This is not easy stuff folks and if I was him I would be proceeding just as cautiously and believe me I’m far more radical than he ever was.

    Get pissed, write what you have to, sign petitions, call the White House and Congress, support Professor Turley et. al. in their public forays, but please keep one thing clear, what would be happening had John McCain been elected? I well remember those voters who refused to vote for that “sellout”
    Hubert Humphrey, than feeling shocked, shocked I tell you, when student were murdered at Kent State and the Ohio Governor was congratulated by Nixon. A little perspective please, mixed in of course with your righteous anger.

  15. Hi Everyone,

    When I heard Prof. Turley speaking on Countdown that Obama was invoking “state secrets”, I realized that I knew very little about this person who was now our president. I began a search and it has led me down the proverbial rabbit hole. As I watched the Ring of Power videos and One Nation Under Siege on youtube, I began to see a bigger picture forming. I’ve spent hours searching and am committed to shining a light into dark places in order that the truth be revealed, not only for myself, but for our future generations. Even though it was tough looking at some of this, I am determined to do so with an open, objective mind. I have also come across an idea that I believe is a very viable solution. The links for these are at the bottom of this. Now you may be asking what this has to do with the subject at hand? I believe it has everything to do with it.
    As you search for yourself and perhaps look into some of this, it will make more sense. More dots will be connected and a bigger picture forms. Now I know that “conspiracy theroy” stuff is taboo…but that’s exactly what they want us to think so we’ll keep looking away from that which points us to the truth.
    If you are a parent or educator, you might wish to read The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. If our government is openly and deliberately disregarding the laws of our nation right in front of us, the question remains…what are they doing behind the scene?

    Speaking of Amway, I just got the ebook Merchants of Deception, which is about Amway.
    So, if you’d like to go down the rabbit hole, you can go to you tube and search for Ring of Power and One Nation Uner Siege, as well as The Zeitgiest Movement and The Venus Project. Check out Phillip Berg and 911weknow.com and click the link Who is Obama.
    One this site, check out the article on hdtv about halfway down the page. Not everything is as it seems to be.

  16. This is an article by Bruce Fine, a Republican who consistently criticized Bush. I agree Bob, had this been McCain, there would have been no doubt about the real meaning of the actions taken by the president. Upon further “relection” I find that it is quite dangerous to describe crimianl investigations into crime as a type of vengence. JT addressed this very well on RM. Glenn Greenwald feels that Obama should be praised for the release of the memos and condemned for the grant of immunity. I think he is mistaken to separate the two acts. They were taken together for a reason. Bruce Fine addresses this issue and how he feels Obama should have handled the problem:

    “President Obama should have invoked his pardon power if he believed circumstances justified the crimes by Bush and Cheney and the CIA’s interrogators. A pardon or lesser clemency properly exposes the president to political accountability, as Bush discovered with Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby and President Ford with former President Nixon. More significant, a pardon does not set a precedent making lawful what was unlawful. It acknowledges the criminality of the underlying activity, and acceptance of the pardon is an admission of guilt by the recipient. Pardons leave unsullied the doctrine of Ex parte Milligan (1866):”The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men at all times and in all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government.”


  17. Mike Appleton:

    “If I appear bitter, I am. This is shortsighted, Machiavellian expedience at its worst.”

    Imagine the liberal rage had this been a republican president that did this.

  18. Dredd,

    There have been AGs who resigned rather than engage in illegal activities. Holder should do so if he truly disagrees with Obama. I agree that if Obama overruled Holder that is another mistake, but I’m guessing they are on the same page and any talk about differences is spin. Otherwise, Holder would act on priciple and resign.

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