Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama: Bush Administration Authorized Torture

Greg Sargent:
At least, that’s what I think Obama said at his press conference last night, and I’m surprised it’s not getting a bit more attention today.

The key moment came at the end of an exchange with ABC News’ Jake Tapper. After Obama acknowledged that waterboarding is “torture” — a word he and his aides had shied away from using of late — came this:

TAPPER: I’m sorry, sir, but do you believe the previous administration sanctioned torture?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that the — whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.

Obama implicitly acknowledged here that the previous administration used “legal rationales” to justify “torture.”

This underscores yet again how dicey this is for Obama politically: He’s acknowledging that the previous administration created “legal rationales” to allow itself to engage in behavior that’s outlawed by international treaties. At a minimum, this would seem to give some pretty powerful ammo to those who want some kind of noncriminal probe into what happened.

What am I missing?

Update: This may be more striking than I first thought; Obama seemed to agree that the previous administration violated “international law.”

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