Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is preparing to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, called on Wednesday for a special prosecutor to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency's use of torture against terrorism suspects, one day after the Senate Intelligence Committee released the executive summary of its report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program.
While the release of the report -- which documented torture methods including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and "rectal rehydration" -- prompted international demands for criminal accountability, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder ruled out prosecutions of CIA interrogators in 2009. O'Malley, however, is urging the administration to rethink that stance.
“The United States does not torture and should not torture, and now that this report is out there I think there needs to be some greater accountability,’’ O'Malley told the New York Times. “I hope that the Justice Department might reconsider and appoint a special prosecutor.’’
“I think there needs to be some accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” O'Malley continued.
The governor's position stands in stark contrast to that of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is widely expected to mount a second White House bid in 2016.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in June, Clinton backed the release of the Intelligence Committee's report, but she made clear that she opposes prosecuting CIA interrogators who tortured detainees.
"I was not one of those who thought it was necessarily wise to ignore everything that had happened," Clinton said. But, she added, "I thought we needed more transparency. I 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, but I wanted transparency."
Clinton's hawkishness on national security issues helped Obama overtake her in their 2008 presidential primary faceoff. While early polls show Clinton much better-positioned to win the party's nod than she was at any point in the 2008 cycle, her primary rivals will almost certainly seize on lingering progressive unease with her foreign policy and national security views. The torture report -- and the question of whether those responsible for torture should be held to account -- may provide potential candidates like O'Malley their first big chance to do so.