Posts

Cheney’s request to declassify documents: denied

Lots of enhanced interrogation technique (EIT) information floating about news circles today, so I’ll add one more. After the release of the four so-called torture memo a few weeks ago, Cheney officially requested the Obama administration release two memos that showed what intelligence was gathered from detainees after the use of the EITs.

The request was denied, supposedly because the two memos are the subject of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request tied up in court. From Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard (do read the full post)…

The Obama administration has turned down former Vice President Dick Cheney’s request for the declassification of two CIA reports on the effectiveness of the Agency’s detainee program, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned. A letter dated May 7, 2009, from the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, Delores M. Nelson, rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle. …

Initially, Obama administration officials seemed open to releasing the Cheney memos. Representative Frank Wolf asked Attorney General Eric Holder about the Cheney memos during at House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on April 23. Holder said he had not seen the documents. But added: “It is certainly the intention of this administration not to play hide and seek or not to release certain things in a way that is not consistent with other things. It is not our intention to try to advance a political agenda or to hide things from the American people.”

But that is exactly what critics, with some justification, contend the administration has done. In a letter to his intelligence community colleagues sent to explain the release of the OLC memos, Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, wrote: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” But when Blair’s office released parts of his letter as a public statement on the subject, that sentence was cut. Blair also noted that members of Congress had been briefed on the methods, but that section was also cut from the public statement.

So, release the “torture” memos in the guise of being transparent so the people in other countries will see that we are now a “better class” of folks, but don’t release the additional pictures from Abu Ghraib since…

“The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals,” Mr. Obama told reporters on the South Lawn. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

Then, don’t release the memos that describe the after-effects of using EITs referencing a FOIA request technicality. (Obama can declassify them immediately if he wishes.)

And they actually want us to believe these moves are not political.

Got that?

Face the Nation – Schieffer thinks waterboarding similar to chopping off heads

I’m not going to let this stand. Does the left really think that if they keep saying it over and over again it will be true? Bob Shieffer interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney on Face the Nation Sunday morning and tried – once again – to warp the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques into being the same as chopping off heads and gauging eyes out with a spoon.

“What do you say to those, Mr. Vice President, who say that when we employ these kinds of tactics, which are after all the tactics that the other side uses, that when we adopt their methods, that we’re weakening security, not enhancing security, because it sort of makes a mockery of what we tell the rest of the world?” asked Schieffer.

“Well, then you’d have to say that, in effect, we’re prepared to sacrifice American lives rather than run an intelligent interrogation program that would provide us the information we need to protect
America.”

I refuse to accept Shieffer’s premise that we have adopted their methods.

Cheney did a pretty good job during the interview. What’s interesting is the left’s annoyance that CBS and other media outlets are providing the vice president an opportunity to speak. It just drives them nuts. Their media is inviting Cheney to come and speak!

On top of that, they are claiming that Cheney is somehow breaking protocol by not just slithering away into retirement. Did they forget that the Clinton family started the trend?

Others writing… Power Line, Hot Air, and Gateway Pundit, who all noted the zing on Colin Powell.

For those interested, here’s the video from Face the Nation.

Update (Jim): I have the specific portion of the interview here. The question is key, but Cheney’s answer is classic.

Ensign to Matthews: We put our Navy SEALs through worse

Any investigation into the Bush Administration authorization of enhanced interrogation will center on the definition of torture. The left will try to define torture as anything above a coercive conversation and in so doing will be able to position Bush officials as law breakers or “war criminals”.

The jumping off point will be a Carl Levin report detailing the techniques used by intelligence officers. But as Senator John Ensign pointed last night on Hardball, while waterboarding may be off the table now, what CIA officers did at GITMO, can hardly be considered torture when put in context.

The smack down in this video clip comes early here, when Ensign takes the Levin report apart. Inflammatory!

Game on! Bush torture memo prosecutions NOT off the table UPDATE: Thompson Speaks

UPDATE: Fred Thompson weighs in on the whole matter here. (via instapundit) Read more

Torture memos: NOT a dark and painful chapter in our history

Twenty-four hours have passed since the so-called torture memos have been released and as I expected, it’s not a story that has gone viral. Plenty of coverage, but not oh-my-God kind of coverage.

Read more

Interrogation memos released – PDF scans available

I do not have time to review these right now, but my guess is that nothing will send shock waves through the media or anywhere else for that matter.

Personally, I hope that the current administration would use these techniques if needed. Again, they are extreme measures, not torture. The intelligence community is certainly not happy about this.

Look, if a Sept. 11-type event happens again -God forbid – are we going to feel alright about not using extreme measures on a detainee in custody when those techniques could have worked and prevented an attack?

How would you feel if a politician came up to you and said he or she was sorry for your loss, but there was just no way we could allow our intelligence people to keep that guy awake for 72 hours – or put him in a box with a caterpillar – to get the information we needed to save your family member.

Very little information is redacted, and those parts seem to be the intelligence information that actually was gathered using the techniques. Again… it worked.

Poll Question
Before you answer “it depends” or “no way”, have you read the memos?

[poll id=”103″]

Federal court order results in release of Bush interrogation memos

The Obama administration will release interrogation memos written by Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel lawyers during President George W. Bush’s administration. A federal court required the Obama administration to release them or to provide a good reason to withhold them in response to an ACLU lawsuit.

My guess is that the documents may drop with a thud, since most of the information was previously leaked. Some people may scream for charges to be brought against former Vice President Cheney or even Bush himself, but nothing will come of this. Even the names of the operators in the memos (there are four) will be redacted.

These so called torture techniques – better described as extreme interrogation methods – actually do work, and if you are one of the individuals who think that extreme measures are never to be used to gather intelligence, we’ll agree to disagree.

LGF notes that the White House confirms CIA officers will not be prosecuted.

Here’s a news story over on Yahoo! News

The memos were authored by Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury, who at the time were lawyers for the then-president George W. Bush‘s Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.

The memos provided the legal framework for a program of interrogations of “war on terror” detainees that included techniques widely regarded as torture such as waterboarding, in which a detainee is made to feel like he is drowning.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that intense debate was underway within the new administration over whether to release the memos.

The report said Attorney General Eric Holder and others in the Justice Department had argued aggressively in favor of release, but the CIA has countered that disclosure of such secrets would undermine its credibility and effectiveness.

Allah at Hot Air notes – and I surmise – the left wing will start screaming because the names are redacted.

Think The One was going to compound the problem by putting their guys in the dock for belly slaps? What choice did he have here realistically, lefty commenters?

From Jonathan Alder over at The Volokh Conspiracy

President Obama has decided to release OLC “torture memos” drafted between 2002 and 2005. In his statement (reproduced here), he cited “exceptional circumstances” justifying the memos’ release (reportedly over the objection of some intelligence officials). He also said that those who relied upon the memos “in good faith” would not be prosecuted for their actions.

For those of you who are against extreme measures, I’ll ask you to comment on this snippet from a book I recently read.

[Wasson] “… You ask the people if they are pro-torture, and ninety plus percent say no. You then ask them what the CIA should do if they catch a senior al-Qaeda member who has carried out attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq that have killed thousands. You then tell them that the CIA has solid information an attack is looming and this man has information that could help stop it. You then ask them if they are okay with slapping this guy around and making him think he’s about to drown and all of a sudden seventy percent of them are pro-torture.

“Now” – Wassen wagged a finger at his boss – “I can get that number to over ninety percent if you give the people a third option.”

“What’s that?”

“Don’t tell me what’s going on. Just take care of it. I don’t need to know everything my government does.”

“So the options are torture, don’t torture, or stick you head in the sand.”

“Exactly.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“That’s reality, Babs.”

Guantanamo detainees in the US and enhanced interrogation techniques

Two bits of news from President Obama’s intelligence chief and attorney general in the past week. First, the administration is considering releasing some inmates here in the United States. Second, the Obama administration is considering “enhanced interrogation techniques” when questioning terrorists. Read more

Bush administration wiretap plan good to go

Remember that question on This Week with George Stephanopoulos about wiretapping and the prosecution of George W. Bush’s gravest crimes?

With about 120 hours left in the current administration, a federal intelligence court has ruled that it is perfectly fine for the Executive branch to wiretap/intercept international phone calls and e-mails without a specific court order, even if American citizens are involved.

The court  ruled the president was within his authority, and my hope is  the Obama administration will use this as another tool to fight terrorists.

From the New York Times

The decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.

So, what does that do for Bob Fertik, the man from New York who submitted the question? Fertik’s question did not just come from a New York citizen, it came from the Bob Fertik who co-founded democrats.com and is well known in progressive political circles.

I wonder why Stephanopoulos chose that particular question? It’s not a secret at all what Fertik does or who he is, but why was he just referred to as a guy from New York on a national network news program?

Hat tip to Blackfive, and Paul at Power Line notes the change in tone as compared to previous main stream media stories about the wiretap program.

In his New York Times story on the case, Eric Lichtblau, who disclosed the existence of the warrantless surveillance program, sniffs that the court’s ruling “may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.” (emphasis added) I guess so. Rulings by appellate courts, by definition, give “legal credence” to the positions they embrace. And here we’re talking about a court with special expertise in the subject matter that is ruling on an essentially novel issue.

The court’s ruling may not be the final word, and it certainly doesn’t end the discussion. But Lichtblau’s “may offer legal credence” locution is embarrassing, and stands in sharp contrast to the familiar “in a crushing blow to the Bush administration. . .” type of language the MSM serves up when these kinds of cases go the other way.

24 … in real life

I’ll have more to say on this tomorrow. George W. Bush responding to a question from Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday today … would the nation be in danger if the next president did not have all interrogation tools at his disposal? The president’s answer is critical and I think Obama understands this already.

So what makes me so sure Obama understands? See this post from today.

There’s one other factor to consider … and a tough act for the Obama administration to follow, especially given the above information. George W. Bush has kept America safe. No that’s not me saying that … it’s Tom Friedman.