The U.S. Justice Department released four memos yesterday that show the agency’s lawyers approved the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, slapping, nudity and waterboarding. It has been reported the release was made over the objections of CIA director Leon Panetta.
At the same time the administration ruled out prosecuting government interrogators who relied on the memos in questioning suspects. “We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history,” the President said in a statement. “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Obama said making the documents public won’t jeopardize national security but he is wrong.
The purpose of the interrogation methods has nothing to do with gaining confessions for some military or civilian trial. The CIA used those methods to get information and prevent future terror attacks. If the President really felt that “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” He would not have released the memos. This is a case of the President placing politics in front of protecting the life and limb of American Citizens.
The issue is not that the terrorists now know what we will do to get information, its that the President has shown the terrorists what we wont do. They now where the line in the sand is–how far an interrogation will go and can prepare for it.
The President made a big show of saying the CIA’s methods were wrong, but he wasn’t going to prosecute. This passive/aggressive behavior has to be a blow to CIA morale. The next time someone in the CIA has to follow a procedure that is on the edge, will they follow it? Even if they have a legal opinion giving the procedure a blessing, will they be worried the next President will make a political decision which puts them in danger of being Jailed?
The real national danger the president created with his Political release of those memos yesterday, is CIA agents who are too worried about what may change with the next election, to do their job in effective manner.