Published May 05, 2011
The sister of a Sept. 11 victim said President Obama on Thursday turned down her request to advise Attorney General Eric Holder to drop his probe of CIA agents whose interrogation methods may have provided information leading to the raid on Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked and forced into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, told Fox News on Thursday that she made the request during Obama's meeting with families of victims of the Al Qaeda attack.
When the president approached her table, Burlingame said she told him that as a former attorney she knows he can't tell the attorney general what to do – an assessment the president agreed with, she said.
"And I said, but that shouldn't stop you from offering your opinion. After all, we wouldn't be here celebrating today if they hadn't done their job," she said. "And they have the hammer of a possible indictment over their heads. Can't you at least give him your opinion?"
The president replied that he wouldn't, she said. She added, "And he turned around and walked away."
Holder launched the investigation in late 2009, appointing a special prosecutor to review cases of possible detainee abuse at the hands of CIA agents. Around the same time, the administration shifted responsibility for interrogations of top terror suspects away from the CIA. At the beginning of his presidency, Obama had ordered that interrogations stick to the guidelines in the Army Field Manual.
Republicans and ex-officials wants the Obama administration to not only restart the CIA interrogation program in some form but to end the probe of CIA employees.
Debate has been raging on Capitol Hill over whether so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, played a role in tracking bin Laden. The White House says that a range of sources contributed, and that no single bit of information was a deciding factor.