In a move that is certain to fuel more controversy, the Obama administration has turned down former vice president Dick Cheney’s request for the release of two memos that he believes will prove the effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics.
CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, Delores M. Nelson denied Cheney’s request because the memos are part of ongoing litigation, “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.”
Cheney has repeated made the claim that these magic memos will prove that torture works. As he told Fox News, “I haven’t talked about it, but 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. I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was.”
This decision is sure to set the right wing into full conspiracy mode, but the evidence is piling up against these memos. The FBI interrogator Ali Soufan directly refuted Cheney’s torture claims during congressional testimony yesterday. I think that we all should be a little skeptical of these memos, because if they actually proved the effectiveness of the techniques, the Bush administration would have leaked them years ago.
The Bush/Cheney team constantly leaked any information that supported their position, so it is very hard to believe that somehow they managed to keep this one bit of information secret. Over the past two days, it has become clear that the Obama administration is trying to bury the torture debate. They ticked off the left with their reversal on the photos yesterday, and today they anger the right by not releasing these memos. The motive behind their behavior in both cases is that they want to get past the torture debate.