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Obama Ducks Questions on Bush War Crimes and Israeli Nukes

from DemocracyNow.org

Obama Responds to Leahy Proposal on Probing Bush Admin Crimes

Back at the White House, President Obama took several other questions on domestic and foreign policy at his inaugural news conference. Obama was asked about Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposal for a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush administration crimes.

President Obama: “My view is also that nobody is above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen, but that, generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards. I want to pull everybody together, including, by the way, the—all the members of the intelligence community who have done things the right way and have been working hard to protect America and I think sometimes are painted with a broad brush without adequate information. So I will take a look at Senator Leahy’s proposal, but my general orientation is to say let’s get it right moving forward.”

Obama Ducks Question on Israeli Nukes

The veteran correspondent Helen Thomas was also able to ask her first question of Obama’s presidency. In a clear reference to Israel, Thomas pressed Obama on nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Obama tried to ignore that part of her question.

President Obama: “All right. Helen? This is my inaugural moment here. I’m really excited.”

Helen Thomas: “Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan and—are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

President Obama: “Well, I think that Pakistan—there is no doubt that in the FATA region of Pakistan, in the mountainous regions along the border of Afghanistan, that there are safe havens where terrorists are operating. And one of the goals of Ambassador Holbrooke, as he is traveling throughout the region, is to deliver a message to Pakistan that they are endangered as much as we are by the continuation of those operations and that we’ve got to work in a regional fashion to root out those safe havens…With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it’s important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this.”

Thomas is the most senior member of the White House press corps. She has now questioned ten presidents, dating back to John F. Kennedy.

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