[JURIST] US President Barack Obama on Thursday asserted his intention [statement] not to investigate individuals who used or authorized enhanced interrogation techniques the same day the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released memos [JURIST report] outlining CIA use of these techniques. The president urged the country to look forward, rather than to the past, saying:
We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.
Obama's statement was met with criticism from several civil liberties and human rights groups. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] called for an investigation [press release], saying, "When crimes have been committed, the American legal system demands accountability." Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] also urged the administration to investigate those who authorized torture [press release]. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] expressed "deepest disappointments" [press release] in the administration's decision. The chairmen of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee [official websites] released statements [Senate statement; House statement] urging the administration to investigate those who authorized enhanced interrogation techniques.
Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released a final version of a report [JURIST report] calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether any criminal laws were violated. In March, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also called for an investigation [JURIST report] into Bush administration policies through the formation of a "truth commission."