Release The Torture Memos


“As reported by NEWSWEEK, the White House last month had accepted a recommendation from Attorney General Eric Holder to declassify and publicly release three 2005 memos that graphically describe harsh interrogation techniques approved for the CIA to use against Al Qaeda suspects. But after the story, U.S. intelligence officials, led by senior national-security aide John Brennan, mounted an intense campaign to get the decision reversed, according to a senior administration official familiar with the debate. “Holy hell has broken loose over this,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because of political sensitivities.

Brennan is a former senior CIA official who was once considered by Obama for agency director but withdrew his name late last year after public criticism that he was too close to past officials involved in Bush administration decisions. Brennan, who now oversees intelligence issues at the National Security Council, argued that release of the memos could embarrass foreign intelligence services who cooperated with the CIA, either by participating in overseas “extraordinary renditions” of high-level detainees or housing them in overseas “black site” prisons.””

Fear of embarrassing countries who cooperated with us cannot possibly be the reason for not releasing the memos. The solution is too simple: just redact their names and any identifying details. Are we supposed to believe that this has not occurred to Panetta or Holder? Or that there is some identifying detail that is so thoroughly intertwined with the legal arguments that it cannot possibly be edited out?

Give me a break.

President Obama: let us see what our public servants defended as lawful, and the arguments they used. If necessary, don’t name the countries who, to their shame, decided to assist us. But don’t insult our intelligence by pretending that you and your administration have never heard of White-Out.