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First 100 days: Obama backing off?

The New York Times: "The White House and the Democratic leadership in the Senate signaled on Thursday that they would block for now any effort to establish an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration's approval of harsh interrogation techniques… Meeting with the Democratic leadership on Wednesday night, Mr. Obama said a special inquiry would steal time and energy from his policy agenda, and could mushroom into a wider distraction looking back at the Bush years, people briefed on the discussion said. Mr. Obama, they said, repeated much the same message on Thursday at a bipartisan meeting with Congressional leaders."

The Washington Post recounts the White House's internal deliberations to release the so-called torture memos. "As President Obama met with top advisers on the evening of April 15, he faced one of the sharpest policy divides of his young administration. Five CIA directors -- including Leon E. Panetta and his four immediate predecessors -- and Obama's top counterterrorism adviser had expressed firm opposition to the release of interrogation details in four "top secret" memos in which Bush administration lawyers sanctioned harsh tactics."

Video: David Gregory joins the Morning Joe gang to discuss the political firestorm over torture and controversial interrogation tactics

"On the other side of the issue were Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, whose colleagues during the campaign recall him expressing enthusiasm for fixing U.S. detainee policy… Obama requested a mini-debate in which one official was chosen to argue for releasing the memos and another was assigned to argue against doing so. When it ended, Obama dictated on the spot a draft of his announcement that the documents would be released, while most of the officials watched, according to an official who was present. The disclosure happened the next day."

Here's Eric Holder yesterday: "I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences," he testified yesterday before a House committee. "But it is my duty to enforce the law."