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Seitz-Wald writes: "Clinton has not spoken often on the subject since stepping down as secretary of state early last year. But during a conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations sponsored by HBO in June, Clinton called for the release of the Senate report, but said she did not support prosecuting CIA interrogators."

Hillary Clinton has not clearly articulated her position on torture. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)
Hillary Clinton has not clearly articulated her position on torture. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)


ALSO SEE: CIA Torture Sparks World Outrage, Demands for Justice

Where Is Hillary Clinton on Torture?

By Alex Seitz-Wald, MSNBC

12 December 14

 

he use of torture on terrorism-related detainees is back in the spotlight following the release of a landmark new Senate investigative report on the practice during the Bush administration.

The once-heated national debates about so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Tactics” subsided when President Obama issued an executive order barring their use two days after taking office, but they were an important side note during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary between Obama and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, who will likely run to replace her former rival in 2016.

There appears to be broad consensus against torture in all cases among Clinton and other Democrats eyeing a potential presidential run in two years, though the question of prosecuting CIA officers who engaged in the practices remains open.

Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders both have spoken out strongly since the release of the report Tuesday. The views of two other candidates likely to run,  former Sen. Jim Webb and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, are less clear, however. Webb opposed torture in the Senate, but has been out of office for several years, while O’Malley, as a governor, is not expected to articulate opinions on foreign policy.

Now a private citizen herself, Clinton has not spoken often on the subject since stepping down as secretary of state early last year. But during a conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations sponsored by HBO in June, Clinton called for the release of the Senate report, but said she did not support prosecuting CIA interrogators.

“I am hopeful it will get released,” Clinton said of the report, which was hung up in negotiations between the administration and Senate. “I was not one of those who thought it was necessarily wise to ignore everything that had happened. I thought we needed more transparency … I think the American people deserve to see it.”

But Clinton continued that she “didn’t want people to be criminally prosecuted, people who were doing what they were told to do, that there were legal opinions supporting what they were told to do.”

In new her memoir about her time helming State, “Hard Choices,” Clinton adds: “There was no denying that our country’s approach to human rights had gotten somewhat out of balance” after the Bush administration. She also praised Obama’s order “prohibiting the use of torture or official cruelty,” using the term the Bush administration refused to use for the harsh interrogation tactics.

During the 2008 Democratic primary, however, torture was a minor issue adjacent to the central disagreement on the Iraq War. Clinton, to the right of the rest of the field on foreign policy, took a more nuanced view on torture than some of her competitors, like then-Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The two challengers opposed the use of torture in all cases, but Clinton at first carved out an exception for a ticking time bomb scenario. “In the event we were ever confronted with having to interrogate a detainee with knowledge of an imminent threat to millions of Americans, then the decision to depart from standard international practices must be made by the president,” she told the New York Daily News in 2007.

In an editorial board meeting, she added that there “are very rare” circumstances when an exception to the no torturing rule would be needed, and “if they occur, there has to be some lawful authority for pursuing it.”

Obama attacked her on the issue in a late January 2008 speech in Denver, suggesting her position on torture even put her to the right of the then-presumed GOP nominee John McCain, who opposed the harsh tactics after being tortured in Vietnam.

But by then, Clinton had changed her position. When asked about a ticking time bomb scenario during a debate in September 2007, she categorically ruled out the use of torture. “It cannot be American policy, period,” she said.

That held as her policy, despite the fact that it initially put her in disagreement with her husband, who often cited the TV show “24” as an example of why torture is sometimes necessary.

On Tuesday, following the release of the Senate report, Biden was asked about torture at an event hosted by Politico. “Its a badge of honor,” he said of the report. “Every country has engaged in activity not proud of but name another country that will stand up and say we made a mistake and we won’t do it again.”

“With regard to who should be prosecuted,” he continued. “It is for the Justice Department to determine if action should be taken.”

Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had a strict anti-torture policy going back at least to his 2008 Democratic presidential bid. He’s currently considering another run in 2016. “Honest to God, I haven’t made up my mind,” he said Tuesday.

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also seriously considering a run for the presidency as a Democrat, said Tuesday that the report “details an ugly chapter in American history during which our leaders and the intelligence community dishonored our nation’s proud traditions.”

Sanders, who chairs the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee, said he opposed the practice at all times. “The United States must not engage in torture. If we do, in an increasingly brutal world, we lose our moral standing to condemn other nations or groups that engage in uncivilized behavior.”

Webb and O’Malley have not spoken publicly on the issue recently, and spokespeople for both did not reply to requests for comment.

While he was in the Senate, Webb, a veteran and foreign intervention skeptic, warned torture could be counterproductive and yield bad evidence.

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+17 # Billy Bob 2014-12-12 13:43
Tepid.

She's also shown interest in invading Syria and Iran.
 
 
+17 # dquandle 2014-12-12 15:44
and starting WWIII in Ukraine, while obliterating Libya.
 
 
+5 # Billy Bob 2014-12-12 16:56
Oh yeah! And there's that!
 
 
+1 # A_Har 2014-12-12 21:23
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmIRYvJQeHM
 
 
+2 # ritawalpoleague 2014-12-13 12:01
Hill the Shill will say anything to up her chances of grabbing the nomination for 'first woman pres.' in '16.

Our only hope to UNDO THE EVIL COUP, is to keep urging Bernie Sanders to run for pres., as a Dem., with Elizabeth Warren onboard as his V.P. candidate. And, why is that?....

SANDERS PANDERS NOT, TO THE 1% (and, neither does Warren).
 
 
+3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-12-12 14:11
Bill married her. He would know. A little humor!!!
 
 
+17 # Old Uncle Dave 2014-12-12 14:55
Hillary will say whatever she thinks is most expedient at that moment. Later she will say something different if she thinks she can benefit by it. She exhibits psychopathic traits.
 
 
+9 # REDPILLED 2014-12-12 15:43
Exactly true! It seems those psychopathic/so ciopathic traits are just what candidates need to run for higher office or be CEOs of corporations now.

That's why we are doomed.
 
 
+24 # Blackjack 2014-12-12 14:58
Hiding out with the rest of the Neocons. Of course she doesn't think those involved should be prosecuted. She did, after all vote for the war, with nary a word afterward about the tactics used by Cheney and his gang of thugs. At this time in our history, the cowardly lions still rule.
 
 
+3 # Malcolm 2014-12-12 15:02
Hillary's goal in life is to appear as manly as the most manly man warrior. She ain't about to show her "feminie side".
 
 
+17 # REDPILLED 2014-12-12 15:44
Real men don't torture.
 
 
+9 # Billy Bob 2014-12-12 16:20
That's true. But, Malcolm is old and he can well remember what the press did to Geraldine Ferraro in 1982. She was treated like shit because she showed tears in public (a la John Boner).

Like so many other Democrats, Killary is still fighting against Ronald Reagan and still fighting the '60s. Like so much of the Democratic Party, she hasn't realized that the country has moved on since then and has moved far to the left of where it was at that time.

The Democratic Party refuses to produce another Geraldine Ferraro, or Walter Mondale, or Hubert Humphrey. Those candidates all lost to right-wing lunatics (um... a LONG fucking time ago).

Now, the Democratic Party has learned to turn out it's OWN clown car of right-wing lunatics, and wonders why so many potential voters aren't interested in the plastic product they're selling.
 
 
-3 # A_Har 2014-12-12 21:24
She's an "honorary man."
 
 
+19 # fredboy 2014-12-12 15:05
Following WW2, almost every Nazi concentration camp planner and worker shared the same excuse: We were only following orders...
 
 
+4 # dquandle 2014-12-12 15:45
Thats what Hillary likes; people who follow orders.
 
 
+17 # Texas Aggie 2014-12-12 15:28
"But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better." - Obama

“Every country has engaged in activity not proud of but name another country that will stand up and say we made a mistake and we won’t do it again.” - Biden

Joe, I can think of two countries, Germany and Japan. And when did America ever say they wouldn't do it again? There is good reason to think that the CIA has been and is doing this right along. Then there is the long list of repubs decrying the report and defending what they did despite the fact that torture has been shown to be worse than useless. No, making excuses doesn't work.
 
 
+7 # dick 2014-12-12 15:31
Mrs. Slick Willy is showing LEADERSHIP at an Undisclosed Location. Will not the latest Wall St-Democrat boondoggle sink her? Where is she on THAT? Her hubby torpedoed Glass-Steagal.
 
 
+3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-12-12 18:44
And "gave us" NAFTA.
 
 
+11 # shgo 2014-12-12 15:46
who cares what she thinks or says. For me she is yesterday's voice - bye bye to her and her ilk.
 
 
+10 # dquandle 2014-12-12 15:47
Hillary supports torture and supports mass murder by executive decree, and will engage in both when elected. She is a gorgon, on par with Albright.
 
 
+3 # A_Har 2014-12-12 21:31
I am already seeing bumper stickers--"gett ing ready for Hillary." OMG, I will never be ready for that harpy. I will never vote for her. I am sick of the Clintons, the Bushes--any of them.
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-02 18:10
Who are you for? Calling people names and saying your sick of them hardly contributes any intelligent incite to the discussion. How about Pope Francis?
 
 
+11 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-12 16:13
'...people who were doing what they were told to do...'
1. Clinton should have been a lawyer for the Nazis at Nuremberg, if she takes that view.
2. Same answer, too: it doesn't matter what you were told to do, you know it's illegal & you refuse...otherw ise, you are guilty
 
 
+6 # fredboy 2014-12-12 18:14
Amen. The appalling response of the Nazis clearly reflected their belief that allegiance to authority is superior to personal character. With "right and wrong" not even considered.
 
 
+8 # artcraft 2014-12-12 17:06
We neeed someone else. She is the 20th b Century, the past.
 
 
+6 # artcraft 2014-12-12 17:07
We neeed someone else. She is the 20th Century, the past.
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-02 18:12
How about Bush? He is a 21st Century man for sure.
 
 
+12 # Billsy 2014-12-12 17:16
Hillary has already blown it by taking sides against Edward Snowden and patently lying about the possibility of his obtaining anything approaching a fair trial for exposing illegal spying on americans by our tax funded intelligence agencies. This and her enthrallment with the neoliberal interventionist foreign policy claque are enough to discredit her presidential qualifications. Throw in her opportunistic activities with corporatist husband Bill and progressives need look elsewhere for leadership.
 
 
+8 # DurangoKid 2014-12-12 18:02
What has changed since MLK called the US government the biggest purveyor of violence in the world? In the public discourse torture has gone from unthinkable to acceptable in certain cases. And in all cases the practice is not punishable at the highest levels where the policy originates. One has to wonder what the real narrative is. Torture is wrong only if you get caught? The public has become habituated to torture so now it's assumed if you resist the state you're rightfully subject to torture? As I see it, the state wants to extend its monopoly on violence to include torture. It may take a while to get there, but they're working on it inch by inch. The refusal to prosecute torturers gets them several feet closer to their goal. Notice any similarity between bankers who commit fraud on a grand scale and the executive branch torturers? Getting caught doesn't seem to make it illegal enough. I doubt Hillary has changed her mind on torture. She'll say what she must to get votes, but her supporters in the political elite must know she's a firm believer in extending state violence to torture. Otherwise she'd be as electable as
Ralph Nader.
 
 
+7 # fredboy 2014-12-12 18:15
We don't prosecute torturers and we don't prosecute the killers of innocent men on our streets.

What have we become?
 
 
+3 # GrittedTeeth 2014-12-12 20:00
She is too close to the election to alienate the CIA - she probably needs their black op services to win. And she is a bit of a right winger anyway, needing CIA assets just like Obama for overseas interventions.
 
 
+5 # shawnsargent2000 2014-12-12 20:42
Exactly; She Voted For the War, She is not fit to become President.
We need to finally establish a three party system.
Elizabeth Warren, should change to an Independent and run with Sanders.
We have had over 20 years of Democrats and Republicans, who have effectively destroyed the unions, balanced and then alternatively exploded the Federal Deficit, started two illegal wars, and covered up a regime of torture.
This nation is at a great turning point in our 400 hundred year history, a turning point of which, we need to go back to our founding priciples of Democracy.
If We the People don't make it happen, no one will.
 
 
+5 # tomtom 2014-12-12 22:41
We're fucking torturing and bombing people this very second! We have to take the movement to a higher level, now! Listen, you can hear those children's screams. Presidential candidates aren't the issue!
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-02 18:15
When Reagan was fighting the guerillas in Central America, when they caught them, they would chain them together and flight over the ocean in C-5 and drop them in the ocean. People think waterboarding is bad but that is mild compared to what we have done in the passed
 
 
+5 # Rockster 2014-12-13 02:40
We do need a new party.... The Citizens Party, perhaps?
It needs leaders but cannot be built on personality , and here's the tough part for modern Americans--- we need patience, perseverance and a longterm vision that's selfless and clear eyed
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-02 18:16
America gets the government that they deserve.
 

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