PRESIDENT Obama's preference for looking forward rather than raking over the past in respect of allegations of torture and improper behaviour by CIA agents has suffered another setback. In a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union has succeeded in prizing open the contents of a 2004 report which when previously published was redacted to such an extent that most pages were covered in black ink. Having reviewed the uncensored report President Obama's Attorney-General, Eric Holder, has decided to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuse of terrorist suspects; his inquiry could lead to criminal charges. The report includes evidence that CIA officers threatened to kill the children of one suspect and told another that his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him; in another case simulated sounds of an execution in the next room were audible to the prisoner. These developments have shown how divided are different parts of the Obama administration; Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, said that his primary interest would be to stand up for officers who did what their country asked. Meanwhile former vice-president Dick Cheney used the announcement of an inquiry to return to his theme that tough interrogation of terrorists is essential to get valuable information and that any prohibition of such methods would actually threaten the safety of the United States.
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