"The president's contradiction is a bit surprising and we're sort of interested to know what is the policy or the position of the administration, because now it seems to me somewhat confusing," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
"I wish there was as much focus from this administration on policies that will keep us safe here in the United States," he said. "To the extent that the president wants to alter the fundamental policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years since 9/11 is a matter of some concern."
Another person who has taken the lead in criticizing the administration's move to release the memos is Dick Cheney.
Obama's remarks came amid a media campaign by the former vice president, who helped formulate the Bush administration's policies. In an interview with Fox News, he harshly criticized the Obama administration for releasing the memos.
"One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos ... but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified," he said.
Cheney also said he has asked the CIA to declassify those interrogation memos "so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions."
A National Archives spokesperson confirmed that Cheney had indeed submitted a formal request, which was forwarded this morning to the appropriate agency.
The White House had some strong words for Cheney, who has also assailed Obama's foreign policy and was against Obama shaking hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas.
"We've had at least a two-year policy disagreement with the vice president of the United States of America. That policy disagreement is whether or not you can uphold the values in which this country was founded at the same time that you protect the citizens that live in that country. The president of the United States and this administration believes that you can. The vice president has come to, in our opinion, a different conclusion," Gibbs said.
While Obama's remarks have stirred up both sides, it remains to be seen what steps the DOJ will take. The bar for prosecution is quite high. A prosecutor would have to show that the lawyers knew the activity was torture and were finding legal ways around it, and that they were giving legal advice to make illegal actions legal.
For now, the Obama team insists it wants to move forward, but little may come until past issues are resolved.