BOEHNER DOES CHENEY’S BIDDING…. Dick Cheney believes there are Bush-era torture documents pointing to the effectiveness of abusing detainees in U.S. custody, and wants the White House to release them. The House Minority Leader has Cheney’s back.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, used the White House meeting to push for the release of more memorandums documenting the use of the harsh techniques, suggesting they could show that the interrogation methods were effective, as former Vice President Dick Cheney has claimed.

The president did not foreclose the release of more documents, officials briefed on the session said. But Mr. Obama suggested to Mr. Boehner that the additional information would not be definitive on the value of the information obtained from the detainees, they said.

It’s a little odd for Boehner to suddenly see the value in releasing more classified torture materials. He and his allies have, after all, spent the last week insisting that the mere discussion undermines U.S. national security interests.

But that’s what makes yesterday’s request interesting. As Greg Sargent explained, “John Boehner and the House GOP leadership have adopted a new position on torture: The only classified info Obama should release about the torture program is that which could prove Dick Cheney’s claim that torture worked to be true. This is not an exaggeration. It really is their position.”

Right. To hear Boehner tell it, releasing memos pointing to torture is bad. Releasing memos pointing to the effectiveness of torture is good. Releasing the prior without the latter is bad; releasing the latter without the prior is good.

We don’t even know if there are documents that separate the torture from the information gleaned from torture, but Boehner and Cheney would sure appreciate it if the president could find out.


And speaking of “effectiveness,” publius had a good item yesterday, pointing out yet another serious flaw in evaluating torture policies based on their ability to produce information: it necessarily eliminates limits.

One could, for instance, drag in a detainee’s child and begin torturing him or her in front of the detainee. I assume that even the most hardened torture advocates would draw a line there. If they didn’t, that tells you pretty much all you need to know.

But if they do concede that certain methods go too far (i.e., that such things are relevant), then they’re stuck having to argue that the methods we used simply aren’t that bad. In other words, if they concede a line exists, then they’re forced to argue that these methods don’t cross it.

And defending these methods seems very difficult, if not completely disingenuous.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.