Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Former CIA chief Michael Hayden continued his attacks on the release of the torture memos on Fox News,saying, "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. That's very valuable information.

That actually doesn't sound like valuable information to me. In fact it is virtually worthless which more than the release of the memos, calls into question just how valuable Hayden was as CIA director during his 3 year term.
More than anything, the release of the memo embarrasses Hayden and other members of the Bush administration because it tends to prove the opposite of everything they had been saying.

Hayden said, "By taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine, more difficult for CIA officers to defend the nation."

A close look at just one of the points in the memos shows that Hayden's ability to imagine was more potent than the torture techniques applied. We were told that valuable information was obtained through the use of water boarding and that it was an effective technique. Experts in the field of interrogation though have said those techniques are virtually worthless in obtaining valuable information.

According to one of the memos, the CIA used water boarding on two Al-Qaeda officials 266 times. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if the technique was that good, using it once might have been enough to get the information they wanted from a prisoner. The fact that they had to do it 266 times to two prisoners does more to prove the argument by many intelligence professionals that it's an ineffective technique and does not produce accurate actionable information than anything Hayden or Cheney could say to the contrary.

The next big question will be whether to hold members of the Bush Administration including the former President himself, accountable for what was clearly a violation of US law imposed on the CIA by White House directives.

UPDATE: After saying that there would be no prosecutions of Bush Administration officials, Obama has now reversed himself 24 hours later effectively throwing his White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and his Rahm Emmanual his Chief of Staff under the bus. Both made unequivocal statements at Obama's behest, that there would be no prosecutions of Bush officials and that he did not support them.

Now, after Senator Feinstein has distanced herself from Obama's position and said she may very well hold hearings to see if Bush officials broke any laws, and other Democrats have also taken issue with Obama's position, he has reversed himself while punting to the Department of Justice now saying he will leave the matter of prosecutions in their hands. It is, unfortunately, an instance of Obama, after having spoken out of both sides of his mouth, publicly passing the buck.
If laws were broken and they seem to have been, there will be no choice but to prosecute those in Bush's White House who broke those laws.


Robert Gibbs today has said there has been no reversal of Obama's policy, that nothing has changed, that Obama's statement yesterday leaving the door open to prosecutions is consistent with all his prior statements. The only part of that statement that has any truth to it is that nothing has changed.


sue said...

So, my question remains- why were these memos released?
If the Bush administration broke international as well as national laws- which appears to be so from the release of the memos- it seems like a no-brainer to me to further investigate and prosecute said offenders.
But why release the memos, say "well, mistakes were made but we are moving forward"? It doesn't make sense to me- is Obama trying to dig his own grave w/ this one? He should know that many of his supporters are outraged by this lack of action.
And the right wing is incensed by their perception of his "treason".
So how does Obama win in this situation?
I know Obama too well to know that he is carefully calculated in everything he does- there was a reason behind this.
And this was one more reason that this life-long dyed in the wool democrat felt perfectly OK voting for McCain- McCain's stand on torture- and again- McCain speaks on this issue w/ a true passion and knowledge- unlike Obama's flat delivery yesterday to the CIA- read straight off the teleprompters.

susan h said...

In releasing these memos, Obama has cited the "rule of law" which we should follow. Ha! ha! ha! That's a good laugh for those of us who knows he broke every rule of law to become president, starting with disenfranchsing voters in FL and MI, paying super-delegates to vote for him, not allowing an honest roll call vote in Denver, perhaps not even being eligible under our constitution to be president. Yet he releases these memos pretending to care about the "rule of law" and "American values". Obama sends out so many mixed messages that one has to wonder what his hidden agenda is.

Marc Rubin said...

"is Obama trying to dig his own grave w/ this one? "

He may not be trying but he is well on his way to doing that. Senator Feinstein has already came out voicing a position different from his saying she may very well want to investigate and hold Bush Administration officials accountable and may do so regardless of what Obama thinks.

This is where Obama's history of trying to play both sides of an issue to avoid controversy because he has no clear cut conviction may put him in a very difficult political position.

Releasing the memos was clearly the right thing to do. And so is prosecuting the people in the White House responsibile.

Anonymous said...

Here is yet another example of no-convictions, flip-flop Obama-
As far as I can tell- he has not made one decision on his own- is it me or does he go which ever way the wind is blowing?

Nola said...

I'm glad he did it!

Claire said...

They did find out about the Asian group that was going to do a "9/11" style attack on the library building in Los Angeles which saved many lives. Obama is not one to be spouting any moralistic rhetoric.

Anonymous said...


So...can we look forward to Rockefeller, Graham, Pelosi or any other Dems being investigated??? I think NOT!!!

Sunday Dec. 9, 2007 08:00 EST
Democratic complicity in Bush's torture regimen

(updated below)

The Washington Post reports today that the Bush administration, beginning in 2002, repeatedly briefed leading Congressional Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees -- including, at various times, Jay Rockefeller, Nancy Pelosi, and Jane Harman -- regarding the CIA's "enhanced interrogation methods," including details about waterboarding and other torture measures. With one exception (Harman, who vaguely claims to have sent a letter to the CIA), these lawmakers not only failed to object to these policies, but affirmatively supported them.

Jay Rockefeller was one of the key Democrats briefed on the torture methods who never objected. But it's far worse than that. In September, 2006, Rockefeller was one of 12 Senate Democrats to vote in favor of the Military Commissions Act, one of the principal purposes of which was to explicitly authorize the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program" to proceed (even though it continues to be illegal under the Geneva Conventions). Thus, not only did Rockefeller remain silent when continuously briefed on illegal torture methods by the CIA, he then voted to legalize those methods by voting in favor of one of the most Draconian laws in modern American history. That law also retroactively immunized government officials from any liability for past lawbreaking.

-- Glenn Greenwald