Cheney steps into row over CIA’s grilling methods as Obama moves to calm crisis
Former Vice President Dick Cheney formally asked for the declassification of legal memos which proved that the CIA’s interrogation techniques such as water-boarding worked. He stressed that the American people must have a chance to see “what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as this debate over legal opinions.”
He said that last week’s decision by Obama to release memos which bared the harsh methods the CIA employed for extracting information from terrorists was a mistake.
Cheney spoke to Fox News April 20 as President Barack Obama paid his first visit to Central Intelligence Agency headquarters at Langley, Virginia, Monday, April 20, to tell its staff that their work was “more important than ever.” But he insisted that the agency staff must uphold the rule of law and the nation’s values in its continued fight on terror.
This morale-booster, unusually broadcast live, came after the criticism voiced by former agency director Gen. Michael Hayden of publication of the memos, which covered “waterboarding”, week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and painful positions.
Hayden had insisted that the release would make it more difficult to get useful information from suspected terrorists. “I think that teaching our enemies our outer limits, by taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult… for CIA officers to defend the nation,” he said.
“The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer.
The former vice president later weighed by stating that the memos published were misleading because they did not include the documents demonstrating that harsh interrogation delivered intelligence “success”.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources stresses five features emerging from the row:
1. Obama was most probably asked by the new Central Agency Director Leon Panetta to boost plunging morale and counter the memos’ destructive impact on the agency’s anti-terror operations..
2. Hayden was undoubtedly speaking on behalf of many key members of the agency’s top echelon.
3. They continuing debate and controversy over the CIA’s interrogation methods would encourage al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to accelerate their plans for striking the US.
4. A close Obama adviser, David Axelrod, earlier answered Hayden’s charges by asserting the White House’s confidence that it had all the information necessary for thwarting terrorist strikes.
debkafile‘s sources stress: It is no secret that the US administration has long suffered from a shortage of solid intelligence on terrorist activities and plans. The president therefore needed to countermand Axelrod’s assertion before it was refuted.
5. President Obama was confronted by a skeptical audience. While promising to protect them, he did not specify how CIA staffers would be immunized from domestic or foreign prosecution for torture practices, possibly even by a UN body.
CIA operatives, while not averse to prosecuting the war of terror “within the rule of law,” have no illusions about their chances of victory within these limitations.