You are hereSalon: Obama: I can’t comment on Wall Street prosecutions
Salon: Obama: I can’t comment on Wall Street prosecutions
-By Glenn Greenwald
December 12, 2012- President Obama was interviewed by 60 Minutes‘ Steve Kroft last night. Kroft mentioned a new poll showing that 42% of Americans believe Obama’s policies most favor Wall Street rather than average Americans (only 35% believe the opposite). Kroft speculated that this was due in part to the fact that, as he put it, “there’s not been any criminal prosecutions of people on Wall Street,” and then asked Obama whether he was “disappointed” with that development. Obama replied:
I can’t, as President of the United States, comment on the decisions about particular prosecutions. That’s the job of the Justice Department, and we keep those separate so that there’s no political influence on decisions made by professional prosecutors.
If only that were what President Obama really believed and how he actually comported himself.
On January 12, 2009, The New York Times – under the headline: “Obama signals his reluctance to investigate Bush programs” — reported that “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”; specifically, he expressed the “belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and announced that “part of my job is to make sure that, for example, at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.” On April 19, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, went on ABC News and announced that the President opposes investigations not only for the CIA torturers themselves, but also high-level Bush officials who devised and authorized the policies:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruled out prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were following the law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?
EMANUEL: . . . He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided. They shouldn’t be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either, and that’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement — not the letter, the statement — in that second paragraph, “this is not a time for retribution.” It’s time for reflection. It’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
CNN’S ED HENRY: Just so I understand, you’re saying the people in the CIA who followed through on what they were told was legal, they should not be prosecuted? But why not the Bush administration lawyers who, in the eyes of a lot of your supporters on the left, twisted the law, why are they not being held accountable?
GIBBS: The president is focused on looking forward. That’s why.
[During the same time period, the Obama White House worked to block plans by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a Congressional investigation into those crimes, and also had its State Department pressure Spain to impede its own judiciary's investigation into the torture regime.]