The U.S. Justice Department released four memos last week that show the agency’s lawyers approval of the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, slapping, nudity and waterboarding. The memos also discussed how far interrogators are allowed to go. Almost an outline of what terrorists have to train for. It has been reported the release was made over the objections of CIA director Leon Panetta.
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 (as he said) “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.
Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden made an appearance on Fox Sunday today, where he said that people who complain about the enhanced interrogation methods are ignoring the “inconvenient truth” that the use of such techniques have made the nation safer, and warns how the memo release will hurt CIA morale:
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By Jared Allen
Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden on Sunday continued his grilling of President Obama’s decision to release a number of legal memos detailing numerous enhanced interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Hayden followed up the arguments he first laid out in a Friday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal – which he co-authored with former President Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey – against the declassification and release of the memos; among those arguments that the techniques do work and that now potential enemies to the United States can train to withstand them.
Hayden said that those who object to the CIA’s ability to use such enhanced interrogation techniques are acting “honorably,” but are avoiding the “inconvenient truth” that the use of such techniques have made the nation safer.
“It’s difficult for me to judge the president,” Hayden said. “I don’t think I would do that. But [White House Press Secretary Robert] Gibbs’ comments [that ‘it is the use of those techniques, the use of those techniques in the view of the world, that have made us less safe’] bring another reality fully in front of us. It’s what I’ll call, without meaning any irreverence to anybody, a really inconvenient truth.”
Most of the people who oppose these techniques want to be able to say, “‘I don’t want my nation doing this, which is a purely honorable position,” Hayden continued. “The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work. The president’s speech, President Bush in September of ’06, outlined how one detainee led to another, led to another, with the use of these techniques.”
Hayden also reiterated his view that the release of the interrogation memos sheds light on information that would be valuable to our enemies.
“At the tactical level, what we have described for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al-Qaeda terrorist,” he said. “That’s very valuable information.”
And he disputed the president’s rationale for releasing the memos, which was that the information was already public.
“There’s a difference of leaks, and rumors, and rumors of this and that, and going out there and defining in an absolutely clear way what the limits are,” Hayden said. “I mean, if that were the rationale – ‘Oh, it’s already out there’ — any time there was a leak of classified information, you would seem to argue then that we have to go out there and give the full story. I mean, that doesn’t make sense on its face.”
Hayden, who led the CIA from 2006 to just three months ago when he was succeeded by the agency’s first director under Obama, Leon Panetta, also said he was concerned about the “broader effect” the release of the memos will have on the agency – an argument Panetta himself made in objecting to their full declassification.
“If you’re a current CIA officer today — in fact, I know this has happened at the agency after the release of these documents. Officers are saying, ‘The things I’m doing now — will this happen to me in five year because of the things I am doing now?’ And the answer they’ve been given by senior leadership is the only answer possible, which is, ‘I can’t guarantee you that won’t happen, but I do know it won’t happen under this president.’”
Obama has said he will not seek to prosecute any officers found to have used interrogation techniques – such as waterboarding – that may be deemed illegal or labeled torture.
But Hayden said that does not solve the problem.
“Think what that means,” he said. “The basic foundation of the legitimacy of the agency’s action has shifted from some durability of law to a product of the American political process. That puts agency officers in a horrible position.”
“You’re going to have this agency on the front line of defending you in this current war playing back from the line,” Hayden said, adding that he was “confident this is the thought process going on in the agency now.”