TOP LINE: Leading House Dem Applauds Obama’s Reversal On Torture Prosecutions

By Lindsey Ellerson

Apr 21, 2009 2:53pm

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports:  President Barack Obama’s recalibrated approach to potential prosecutions of Bush administration Justice Department officials is being warmly received by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
Many Hill Democrats — including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein — had grown concerned that President Obama and members of his inner circle were ruling out the possibility of prosecuting those officials who devised the legal framework to allow for controversial enhanced interrogation techniques of suspected terrorist detainees in the years following the September 11 attacks. Congressman George Miller, a key adviser to Speaker Pelosi, expressed sympathy for the CIA operatives who were charged with carrying out the interrogations with methods, such as waterboarding, they were advised were legal.  "I think it puts our intelligence people in a very difficult situation when they are told according to the laws derived out by the Justice Department that these activities are not illegal," said Miller on ABC News’ "Top Line."  "They did not write those opinions.  They did not write those manuals.  The Department of Justice and others are responsible for that.  So, I’m just saying I think the President has drawn the line in the right place," he added. The president’s revised approach to the matter appears to be answering some of Rep. Miller’s lingering questions. "I’m still deeply concerned about the authors of those memos in suggesting that somehow that this was not a violation of law, but I don’t expect our people to start trying to interpret the law when they’re in the middle of hostilities and they’re trying to get information," Miller told us.  "They have to reply on what they have been told by those people responsible for the policy, and so I think the President sort of sliced it the right way at that point." In addition, Rep. Miller talked about his national service act being signed into law by President Obama today and the chock full agenda on Capitol Hill on the big ticket health care and energy legislation currently winding its way through Congress. We also chatted with GOP strategist and communications guru Kevin Madden about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s vocal and prominent disagreement with President Obama’s decision to release the Justice Department memos and whether or not Mr. Cheney is the best messenger to voice that opposition.

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