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IN A surprise about-turn, US President Barack Obama says members of the Bush administration who approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation measures could face prosecution.
Mr Obama said his Attorney-General, Eric Holder, was conducting an investigation and the final decision rested with him. Mr Obama referred to four Bush administration memos he released last week detailing CIA interrogation measures, saying they "reflected, in my view, us losing our moral bearings".
Mr Obama also lifted his opposition to a separate congressional inquiry. Last night, White House pr
"For those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it's appropriate for them to be prosecuted," Mr Obama said. "With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney-General, within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that."
Republicans reacted angrily. "What happened to him talking about not looking backward, about looking forward?" said Republican senator John Ensign of Nevada. "I think it's a huge mistake," said Republican senator Lindsey Graham. "If we start criminalising legal advice given to a past president, advice you may disagree with, that's on the margins of legal thought, in your opinion, you've really harmed the presidency."