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.
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