[JURIST] Officials from the administration of US president-elect Barack Obama [transition website] will likely not prosecute Americans who approved or actually carried out the torture or other harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, according to an AP report [text] published Monday. The adoption of such a policy would be in line with plans [Salon report] expressed earlier in the presidential campaigns. During an April 2008 interview with a reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News, Obama said [transcript]:
[T]his is an area where I would want to exercise judgment -- I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General -- having pursued, having looked at what's out there right now -- are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it's important-- one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing between really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity.Supporters of non-prosecution have suggested that the administration should spend its time forming and passing anti-torture laws rather than prosecuting those who already engaged in torture, while those who support prosecution have said that it is necessary to ensure such action does not happen again in the future.
Obama is already making plans to issue executive orders to reverse some of the more contentious policies [JURIST report] implemented during the Bush administration, including limitations on stem cell research and expansion of domestic drilling for oil and gas. Rights groups have already pushed for other changes and reforms. Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] launched an ad campaign [image, PDF] calling on Obama to close Guantanamo Bay and end the use of military commissions on his first day in office. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has also released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] suggesting that upon inauguration, Obama should immediately denounce the previous administration's "abusive" counterterrorism policies in order to bring US practices into accordance with the country's "basic values" and its own obligations under international law.