President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects.
But Mr. Obama also said prosecutions would proceed if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama broadly condemned some counterterrorism tactics of the Bush administration and its claim that the measures were justified under executive powers. But his administration will face competing demands: pressure from liberals who want wide-ranging criminal investigations, and the need to establish trust among the country’s intelligence agencies. At the Central Intelligence Agency, in particular, many officers flatly oppose any further review and may protest the prospect of a broad inquiry into their past conduct.
In the clearest indication so far of his thinking on the issue, Mr. Obama said on the ABC News program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that there should be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law” but that his legal team was still evaluating interrogation and detention issues and would examine “past practices.”
I would be very interested in hearing what Biden has to say about this quote now: “I think we should be acquiring and accumulating all the data that is appropriate for possibly bringing criminal charges against members of this administration at a later date.”