Tales from the Trail

Declassified memo anyone?

April 21, 2009

President Barack Obama’s decision to release memos on the CIA’s use of “enhanced” interrogation methods on terrorism suspects appears to have started a trend in some unexpected quarters.OBAMA/

Former Vice President Dick Cheney,  who used to have his own “undisclosed location” and seemed to thrive on secrecy, is joining the bandwagon to let the sun shine in.

Cheney told Fox News that what bothered him about the disclosure of the legal memos was that they didn’t put out the memos that showed that the interrogations produced a successful result.

“There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified,” Cheney said.

BUSH/“I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify these memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was,” he said.

Yes that’s right… Cheney is asking that secret documents be released to the public.

But wait, this train is still adding cars.

Congresswoman Jane Harman is calling on the Justice Department to release all transcripts and material, unredacted, involving her, after media reports that the FBI or NSA secretly wiretapped her conversations while she was on the House Intelligence Committee.

Conspiracy buffs better watch out. If the government declassifies enough material, those theories on JFK, Elvis, and Roswell may well be doomed.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama and CIA director Panetta at CIA), Reuters/Jason Reed (Cheney and Bush in January)

Comments
14 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Fist Obama was opposed to prosecution and digging up the past. No in couched specificity he is for it. Cheney said that releasing the information at all was damaging to national security. Now he is for full disclosure.

First rule of thumb, never believe government officials. While a stubborn consistency is the “hobgoblin of fools” (Emerson), these two are just typical U.S. politicians bowing to pressure or expediency.

Second rule of thumb, never trust your government. As such flip flopping on positions previously held is almost always for political advantage regarding some other agenda low on the radar.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive
 

Don’t cherry pick Anubis. Cheney said if you are going to declassify our secrets, then you need to full disclose all the information, including the successes. Successes resulting saving thousands of lives.

So, it isn’t a negative that Cheney wants “full disclosure”. His point is don’t just declassify and make public the negatives, do it all which includes positives that saves Americans from dying.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive
 

Judicial investigations must focus on the big-time terrorists, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld; State terrorists in the White House, who have violated our Constitution, our statutes and our international treaties. The Bush Administration was constituted of clinically verifiable mass terrorists who have started two preemptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and killed and maimed thousands of American service personnel, and killed over a million Iraqi civilians as a result of their criminal wars of aggression. These are war crimes against humanity. These are war criminals. They have been condemned by the American Bar Association for a continual violation of our Constitution.

The Bush administration is guilty of war crimes against humanity, lying to the America people, spying illegally on their own people, weakening popular oversight, destroying the evidence and then denying any involvement. This is the closest that any administration in the history of the country has come to forming a totalitarian government.

These war criminals have been aided and abetted by members of the Senate, (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), who through their stonewalling and tabling of legitimate bills instigated by signed petitions and written by Dennis Kucinich. The world deserves an example of how our Constitution was meant to function and how the people will not tolerate that type of behavior in the future.

Posted by teknigfx | Report as abusive
 

Cheney and co went from ‘we don’t torture’ to ‘releasing memos on torture is bad’ to ‘if you’re going to release them at least show where our torture worked’

Does anyone else see a pattern here?

Posted by Andrea | Report as abusive
 

TC, how can you use the words Cheney and full disclosure in the same sentence?
He would never agree to any disclosure or oversight in the past and you must know deep down that he is opposed to releasing anything classified from his office or any other in the Bush admin. Cheney is the guy who said he was not part of the executive branch so he could avoid releasing memos and emails sent and received by the office of the Vice President. Come on now, how long are you going to defend the actions of Bush & Co. while at the same time attacking any Dem who even appears to step out of your narrow view of how things should be?

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive
 

That’s fine Eric. All administrations do what you think only the Bush administration did. I won’t even get into the Clinton administration because that misses the point.

So, in your view because of Cheney full disclosure shouldn’t occur? Interesting…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive
 

Well if Bush committed the crimes, only if then Obama is guilty of bombing in pakistan frontier province and Clinton for bombing Aspirin manufacturing factory in sudan, Lyndon Johnson, JFK for Vietnam,Ronald Regan for attacking Granada, US for dropping bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and this list will go on and on for ever.

First we have to defend our country under the constitution, second constitution states balance of power between executive and elected branch with the checks and balances so that this does not go on. Third all corrupt politician like Pulosi using military jets, Feinstein using her office to help her husband, Jane Harmon for getting favors for less sentence for AIPAC officials, Tom Dashal for evading taxes and the list goes on and on.

Politician want to bailout newspapers, after bailing out banks, Insurance industry and auto industry and next they would want to nationalize newspapers, TV stations, and what else they would think of.

If congress passes a law which will effect all the country should be ratified not by the states only but would include 75% approval of all the voters and this will be step in the right direction.

Country is in economic chaos, politician are power hungry and corrupt and everybody if for their own skin. we should start from the scratch and do over as the system is not working at the current level of corruption and we should do something before we reach point of no return.

Posted by VJ | Report as abusive
 

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, a Bush appointee, was asked recently whether the Bush administration’s “enhanced” interrogation techniques had actually thwarted any terrorist plots, as the president and his allies had claimed. Mueller responded, “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

Yesterday, a spokesperson for Mueller told the New York Times, “The quote is accurate.”

So, TC, that stands in direct contrast to Dick Cheney’s claim that torture has been “enormously valuable” in terms of “preventing another mass-casualty attack against the United States.”

And speaking of the FBI, torture, and things that don’t work, Ali Soufan, a former FBI supervisory special agent, has an article in the NYT today, explaining that he interrogated Abu Zubaydah and acquired “important actionable intelligence before the torture began. Zubaydah kept talking, but none of the revelations were so unique they couldn’t have been gained from regular tactics.”

Complicating matters further, Soufan also explains that the administration’s torture policies produced schisms among officials who were supposed to be working together.

“One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.”

So as a result of the Bush administration’s torture program, some of the country’s best interrogators and counterterrorism experts were frozen out of the intelligence gathering process. How does Cheney think that makes us any safer? How can anyone defend this?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

getplaning. So Mueller is more of an authority than the vice president of the United States?

What I saw in your commentary was a lot of hearsay rather than hard evidence of facts. So, they all gave their opinion, just like Cheney. Who’s right? Probably every single one of them, including Cheney.

Taken as a whole there is likely to be truth, but taken alone, they are all probably stretching the truth to fit their view.

So, once again, nice try. But you gave a tenuous commentary, at best.

I really do hope I am wrong, but Obama and the congressional democrats who want to prosecute the interrogation techniques are only making the United States weaker. I am certain the terrorists and our other enemies are laughing at us right now and emboldening them because they know nothing will happen to them if they are caught.

Just remember, if prosecutions come, the Obama administration will not always be in power. Setting this precedent will one day work against them. So, they better watch every step they make. And for what? So attention can be diverted from Obama and the democrats as they impose laws, programs and policies most of the nation does not want. It also says they know they are losing support in this country…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive
 

This is not about whether or not torture “worked”.

Officials sworn to uphold the Constitution BROKE THE LAW, at the highest levels. They employed techniques they knew were illegal and contrary to the ideals of the US. And when the heat was on, they blamed our soldiers.

The investigations are about assuring that the people whom we trust to run our Country are not running rampant & making up illegal rules as they go along. Which scenario is more ‘dangerous’?

And yes, tc, all roads seem to lead to Cheney. He is absolutely the LAST person whose word should be taken at face value on this issue.

Posted by sf | Report as abusive
 

Yes, Meuller is more of an authority than the former vice president of the United States. Ali Soufan is more of an authority than the former vice president of the United States. Mr. Cheney has a track record of being wrong about just about everything. He has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Deficits don’t matter, there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons, Saddam had an established relationship with al Qaeda, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators, they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency, etc. And since Mr. Cheney is now so committed to transparency, why doesn’t he now release the transcripts of his so-called energy task force meetings?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

“There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified,” Cheney said.

“I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify these memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was,” he said.

“Don’t cherry pick Anubis. Cheney said if you are going to declassify our secrets, then you need to full disclose all the information, including the successes. Successes resulting saving thousands of lives.

So, it isn’t a negative that Cheney wants “full disclosure”. His point is don’t just declassify and make public the negatives, do it all which includes positives that saves Americans from dying.”

Well, not exactly. As we have come to expect from the former vice president, what he says isn’t really what he means. Mr. Cheney has filed FOIA requests asking for only two documents, both of which were stored in his “detainees” file in his files. They are:

CIA Report, dated July 13, 2004
CIA Report, dated June 1, 2005

One thing is immediately clear from this request: Mr. Cheney is cherry-picking the documents that will prove his case. Surprise!

Mr. Cheney DOES NOT request the roughly 6 pages of the CIA IG Report which directly addresses the efficacy of torture in collecting intelligence. He probably doesn’t want that document because its conclusions that it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks. By not FOIAing this document, Mr. Cheney makes it clear that he is just trying to get two documents that do prove his case, while leaving the counterarguments buried as still-classified. Just like he did, you’ll recall, with the intelligence that disproved the aluminum tubes and uranium acquisition claims he used to drag us into the Iraq War.

So much for “full disclosure.”

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

getplaning, you can’t get away from just giving opinions. You have no idea whether or not Mueller or Soufan are more credible as authorities as the Vice President, no idea whatsoever. Even if it appears to be a fact you are “trying” to attribute to Cheney, you only tell half truths. For instance:

“deficits don’t matter” Funny, that is a line democrats often use, especially when a democrat is president. Most recently Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said exactly that.

“there can be no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction…and so on” Well, the whole fact is that democrats in congress gave speeches on the floor of the house and senate saying the same thing and that something need to be done to stop Saddam…etc. World leaders said the same thing, even Putin in Russia. I could go on about that, as well as the same people said the same thing about Al Qaeda.

“…greeted as liberators, …last throes…insurgency…etc…” Well, we are winning the war, ask the soldiers who are over there fighting the ward.

My point is that your hatred of anything republican is keeping your from a balanced and rational discussion. You might present some things that are partly true, but you are not presenting the whole truth. That is not honest dialog and you are prone to tenuous assertions, at best.

Cheney is not the demon you and the other extreme progressive left wing liberals say he is. But I really don’t expect any different from any of you about this. Just tell the whole truth when you say things. Unfortunately, you don’t and I don’t expect you will.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive
 

I gave a response to you getplaning, but more often than not it doesn’t get published. However, everyone has to endure your diatribes of half truths. Your opinion is wrong, but debate can’t happen when only one side it allowed to speak their peace.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/