05/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Conyers, Sanchez, Paul: Obama Torture Decision Wrong (AUDIO)

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), chair of a judiciary subcommittee that has been investigating Bush Administration misdeeds since Democrats took control of Congress, is disappointed in President Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA officials who tortured detainees, as long as the torture was deemed legal at the time by the White House.

"I still believe that we need to hold people accountable when they break the law and I personally would have liked to have seen some accountability for the actions of people in the last administration," Sanchez said Friday on the Bill Press Show.

"I know it's a difficult line to walk, but I don't think that you become a better democracy or stronger democracy by ignoring these kinds of things," she said.


Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) also told Press he disagreed with Obama's decision, saying that he was sure a number of Obama supporters would be disappointed with the president. (Perhaps he's been reading the HuffPost comments section.)

"That's endorsing disobedience to the law," he said. "I think some of the people who helped Obama get into office might be a little bit disappointed. And they might be disappointed about Afghanistan and marijuana laws and state secret laws and not prosecuting people."


Paul said such decisions undermine the point of an election. "If it gets fuzzy in any way, a new administration ought to at least investigate and find out -- let us know what really happened. That's the purpose of switching administrations; to clean house and at least let us know what happened. When policies don't change and the potential crimes that were committed aren't even looked into seriously, I think that gives a lot of disenchantment to the people who have wanted some change."

UPDATE: Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) agrees:

"As Americans digest the awful revelations in the Bush-era OLC opinions, our nation faces a critical choice - what will we do to ensure that abuses like those described in these memos are never again ordered by our leaders or justified by our lawyers? To me, the answer is obvious. We must have a full investigation of the circumstances under which these torture methods were created, approved, and implemented, preferably by an independent commission as I previously proposed. And if our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper legal authority or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify the torture, they should be criminally prosecuted. It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred.

"I believe a Commission is the best forum to resolve the difficult issues raised by the ever-increasing documentary record of Bush Administration interrogation abuses. To take just one example, today two former Bush Administration officials again took to the papers to justify these practices by claiming that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydeh had been a clear success and had led to the disruption of terrorist plots. Yet just two weeks ago, former Bush Administration officials who monitored this interrogation told reporters that 'not a single significant plot was foiled' as a result. The American people deserve a non-partisan answer to such fundamental questions.

"Finally, I do not understand the statements by the President and the Attorney General yesterday on the issue of potential prosecutions to address the senior officials and government attorneys who crafted and approved these programs. Further, yesterday's statements did not address the legality of any conduct that exceeded even the minimal boundaries established by the OLC memos, or any interrogations that occurred before legal guidance was provided."

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