Former VP Cheney Calls for Release of “Successful” Interrogation Memos

In Civil Liberties, Torture on April 21, 2009 at 9:08 am

Former Vice President under President Bush, Dick Cheney, told FOX news that he called for the release of other interrogation memos to be released that highlight “successes” of the CIA interrogation program:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney last month formally asked the Central Intelligence Agency to de-classify top secret documents he believes show harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding helped prevent terrorist attacks against U.S. targets, according to source familiar with the effort. The request was made in late March, before President Barack Obama unsealed top-secret memos about past interrogation techniques last week.

“It worked. It’s been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives,” Cheney said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” “I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”

Obama’s conservative critics have attacked his decision to release the memos, with former CIA director Michael Hayden saying Sunday that Obama put national security at risk by revealing U.S. interrogation techniques. “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-Qaida terrorist. That’s very valuable information,” Hayden said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

Listen to highlights from Cheney’s February interview with POLITICO:

Hayden also said half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaida came from interrogations of terror detainees using the harsh techniques. But the memos also include a passage indicating that CIA headquarters ordered the waterboarding of one important prisoner over the objections of on-scene interrogators who said the detainee had no more information to give up.

Obama also has taken fire from the left on the issue, with critics saying Obama should not have ruled out prosecutions for CIA officers who followed the directives in the Justice Department memos. The New York Times editorial page on Sunday called for investigations of the lawyers who wrote the memos – including one who now has a lifetime seat on a federal appeals court – and said Congress should investigate how the memos came about, putting Cheney and others on the stand if needed.

Obama traveled to CIA headquarters Monday and sought to reassure CIA employees that he understood the anxiety some felt over his ban on certain harsh interrogation techniques.

Obama also stressed that he is committed to protecting national security secrets — but said the release of the secret documents prepared by the Bush Justice Department was “the result of a pending court case” that left his administration with little room to maneuver.

“I understand that it’s hard when you are asked to protect the American people against people who have no scruples and would willingly and gladly kill innocents. Al-Qaida’s not constrained by a constitution,” Obama said in his first visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Obama’s decisions on interrogation – first to halt the harshest practices, and then to release the legal memos authorizing their use – fulfilled a campaign promise to put an end to Bush-era practices and the secrecy around them. But the release of the memos immediately prompted a fierce response from the right, led in part by Hayden, the ex-CIA chief.

Cheney’s comments were the first to highlight the existence of other memos that explained exactly what information was gleaned from the harsh interrogations.

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