INTERROGATION MEMOS ON THE WAY?…. This should be interesting.
Over objections from the U.S. intelligence community, the White House is moving to declassify — and publicly release — three internal memos that will lay out, for the first time, details of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration for use against “high value” Qaeda detainees. The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in May 2005, provide the legal rationale for waterboarding, head slapping and other rough tactics used by the CIA. One senior Obama official, who like others interviewed for this story requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said the memos were “ugly” and could embarrass the CIA. Other officials predicted they would fuel demands for a “truth commission” on torture.
Because of an executive order signed by President Obama on Jan. 22 banning such aggressive tactics, deputies to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. concluded there was no longer any reason to keep the interrogation memos classified. But current and former intel officials pushed back, arguing that any public release might still compromise “sources and methods.” According to the administration official, ex-CIA director Michael Hayden was “furious” about the prospect of disclosure and tried to intervene directly with Obama officials. But the White House has sided with Holder.
Releasing these documents would, Newsweek concluded, “remove, at long last, the veil of secrecy about how detainees in the war on terror were actually treated.”
Two weeks ago, Obama and Holder released nine Bush-era Justice Department memos, which documented many of the ways the former administration thought its counter-terrorism efforts trumped the rule of law. If the Obama administration follows up on this by releasing memos detailing the “enhanced” interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration, it will show genuine follow-through on presidential rhetoric about transparency and accountability.
For that matter, those seeking investigations of Bush-era wrongdoing will have still more evidence to bolster their arguments.