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Other News: Markets Rise on Geithner Remarks; Suspected Pirate Appears in Court

April 21, 2009 at 6:05 PM EDT
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today, stocks rallied after Treasury Secretary Geithner said the vast majority of banks are well capitalized against potential losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 127 points to close at 7,969. The Nasdaq rose 35 points to close above 1,643.

President Obama has left the door open to prosecuting Bush administration officials over torture policy. He had already ruled out punishing the interrogators. But he said today the attorney general will decide about charging those who devised the legal authority for waterboarding and other methods.

The president also raised the possibility of congressional investigations, if they’re done on an independent, bipartisan basis.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you’ve got a choice, I think it’s very important for the American people to feel as if this is not being dealt with to provide one side or another political advantage, but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward.

JIM LEHRER: Last week, the administration released Bush-era memos detailing the interrogation methods. Today, the president said they showed the U.S. lost its moral bearings.

But on Monday, former Vice President Cheney insisted valuable intelligence was gained, and he said he’s asking the CIA to release memos making that point.

A Somali teenager appeared in federal court in New York today on piracy charges. He was alleged to be the lone surviving pirate in the failed hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean earlier this month. In Washington, the FBI’s assistant director defended the decision to try the Somali teen in U.S. courts.

MICHAEL HEIMBACK, assistant director, FBI: He was focused on a ship which was being operated by the Americans, and he attempted to harm a captain, an American citizen. That, indeed, becomes a lead responsibility of the FBI to investigate crimes abroad where U.S. citizens or U.S. interests are the focus of the attack.

And I strongly believe that he should have been rendered, as he was, back to the United States, brought back. He arrived last night in New York. And, indeed, he should be prosecuted in U.S. courts.

JIM LEHRER: The suspect’s age remained unclear, but a federal magistrate ruled he’s at least 18 and therefore eligible to stand trial as an adult. This marks the first time someone’s been tried on piracy charges in the U.S. in more than a century.

The governments of Afghanistan and Iraq have made new moves to deal with militants. In Afghanistan, a spokesman for President Karzai reported having good discussions with the Taliban, but he cautioned there would be no quick outcome.

And the Syrian prime minister arrived in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. They discussed how to stop militants crossing the border.