'This Week' Transcript: Barack Obama

OBAMA: We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And 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 to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no 9/11 commission with Independence subpoena power?

OBAMA: We have not made final decisions, but my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn't mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation's going to be to move forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let me just press that one more time. You're not ruling out prosecution, but will you tell your Justice Department to investigate these cases and follow the evidence wherever it leads?

OBAMA: What I -- I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is he is the people's lawyer. Eric Holder's been nominated. His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people, not to be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So, ultimately, he's going to be making some calls, but my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed looking at what we got wrong in the past.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've mentioned Eric Holder. He's coming under some fire on Capitol Hill by the ranking Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter and some others who are worried about just that, that he's not going to be independent. Are you confident he's going to be confirmed?

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And are you worried at all, troubled at all by the questions that are being asked about his independence, also questions about his involvement in the Marc Rich case?

OBAMA: Oh, I think most of the criticism has revolved around the Marc Rich pardon and he has publicly acknowledged that it was a mistake. George, as you know, if the criteria for somebody being confirmed on a cabinet or being elected president was that they've never made a mistake …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nobody would get in.

OBAMA: Nobody would get in. So, you know, here's somebody who's publicly taken responsibility, he said he dropped the ball on that one. Beyond that, though, everybody will acknowledge that you can't find a guy who's more qualified. He was second at the Justice Department, has been a prosecutor, has been a judge, and with respect to the issues of independence, he locked up the most powerful Democrat on the Hill, Dan Rostenkowski. So, I think this is a man of unimpeachable integrity, I have every confidence that he will be confirmed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you about the inaugural. I know you've been working on your inaugural address. You say you've been reading a lot of Lincoln. Is there anything else that you've come across as you've been preparing the speech that's been a particular inspiration to you?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I have been reading Lincoln. I'm not sure whether that's been wise because every time you read …

STEPHANOPOULOS: High bar.

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