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Obama Leaves Door Open to Bush Officials' Prosecution

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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks on as Attorney General Eric Holder takes his oath during a ceremonial installation at George Washington University in Washington, March 27, 2009. Obama said it will be up to Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

WASHINGTON - President Obama on Tuesday left open the possibility of criminal prosecution for Bush administration officials who drew up the legal basis for interrogation techniques that many view as torture.

Obama said it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials.

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more a decision for the attorney general within the parameter of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that," Obama said during a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House.

"There's a host of very complicated issues involved there. As a general deal, I think we should be looking forward and not backward. I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively, and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations."

Obama reiterated his belief that he did not think it is appropriate to prosecute those CIA officials and others who carried out the interrogations in question.

"This has been a difficult chapter in our history and one of [my] tougher decisions," he added.

The techniques listed in the Bush-era memos released last week "reflected ... us losing our moral bearings," he said

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