CIA to Cheney: No docs for you

CIA TO CHENEY: NO DOCS FOR YOU…. Dick Cheney asked the National Archives to release two classified documents that, he insisted, detailed instances in which torture produced useful intelligence. According to the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes, a close Cheney ally, the former vice president’s request has been denied.

A letter dated May 7, 2009, from the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, Delores M. Nelson, rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle.

“In researching the information in question, we have discovered that it is currently the subject of pending FOIA litigation (Bloche v. Department of Defense, Amnesty International v. Central Intelligence Agency). Therefore, the document is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review,” Nelson wrote in the letter to the National Archives, the agency responsible for handling Cheney’s request.

Hayes, predictably, suggests the Obama administration didn’t deny the request because of the pending FOIA litigation, but rather, because of some kind of political agenda.

I don’t know if politics was a factor — I rather doubt it — but Cheney and his allies are likely to disappointed if and when these documents are declassified. White House officials who’ve seen the materials have explained that they don’t help Cheney’s case, and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), just yesterday, said he’s seen the documents and Cheney’s just wrong.

And at the risk of belaboring the point, it doesn’t matter anyway. We’re not going to use the Bush/Cheney torture techniques anymore. Cheney thinks there’s evidence of torture’s efficacy. He’s almost certainly wrong, but since the United States is going to start following the law again, “it worked” isn’t going to cut it in the future, no matter what’s on these classified documents.

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Steve Benen

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.