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Obama announces release of Bush-era OLC torture memos.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 17th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Obama announces release of Bush-era OLC torture memos.
President Obama announced this afternoon in a written statement that the Justice Department is releasing memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2002 and 2005 which “speak to techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.” In his statement, Obama laid out his reasoning for making the memos public and announced […]

President Obama announced this afternoon in a written statement that the Justice Department is releasing memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2002 and 2005 which “speak to techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects.” In his statement, Obama laid out his reasoning for making the memos public and announced that his administration would not seek to prosecute individuals who “who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice”:

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.

Attorney General Eric Holder issued a parallel statement in which he not only promised not to pursue prosecutions but also to provide representation “in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against” any CIA employee who acted “reasonably” upon the advice of the OLC. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) responded to the release by reiterating his desire to hold a “Commission of Inquiry” into the Bush administration’s use of torture in order to gain a “thorough accounting of what happened.” Read the memos here.

Update House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued a statement praising the release of the memos:

This release, as well as the decision to ban the use of such techniques in the future, will strengthen both our national security and our commitment to the rule of law and help restore our country’s standing in the international community. The legal analysis and some of the techniques in these memos are truly shocking and mark a disturbing chapter in our nation’s history.

Fmr. President George H.W. Bush To Host ?Economic Leadership Forum? With ?Recognized Expert? Rick Santelli
The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation at Texas A&M has announced that the former president will host an “Economic Leadership Forum” next week that includes a panel of “distinguished leaders and recognized experts” — one of which is CNBC blowhard and former derivatives trader Rick Santelli: President George Bush will host an Economic Leadership […]

santelli0416web.jpgThe George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation at Texas A&M has announced that the former president will host an “Economic Leadership Forum” next week that includes a panel of “distinguished leaders and recognized experts” — one of which is CNBC blowhard and former derivatives trader Rick Santelli:

President George Bush will host an Economic Leadership Forum featuring Maria Bartiromo, Richard Kovacevich, Lawrence Lindsey, and Rick Santelli. […] The Twanna M. Powell Lecture Series is an endowed program designed to bring distinguished leaders and recognized experts on current issues of international and domestic interest to the campus of Texas A&M University.

Lindsey, who served as President George W. Bush’s National Economic Council director, once predicted that “the negative effect” of the war in Iraq “will be quite small relative to the economic benefits.”

It is unclear what “recognized” expertise former President Bush’s library foundation finds in Santelli. Last February during an on-air rant, Santelli famously called for a Chicago tea party to protest President Obama’s housing rescue plan. The right wing immediately latched onto Santelli’s rant, with some inviting him on their talk radio shows to promote it. In fact, on G. Gordon Liddy’s show, Santelli claimed — without any basis — that the White House was threatening him and that his kids “are nervous to go to school,” an assertion he was later forced to back away from.

Santelli’s February rant also inspired many of the tax day “tea party” protests across the country. “Santelli hit a lot of things that I believe — that the government needs to stop getting involved in everything,” one local New York organizer said. Indeed, Santelli solidified his right-wing bona fides yesterday saying that he’s “pretty proud” that the gatherings took place, adding, “I think that this tea party phenomenon is steeped in American culture.”

Now, Santeilli’s recent work has sparked a backlash within his own network. The New York Post reports today that GE and NBC executives are worried that “CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much.” Former President Bush apparently has no such concerns.

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