What Does Obama’s Intelligence Director Think of ‘Torture’?

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In yet another bombshell torture story, the Times reports today that President Obama's director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, stated in a memo last week that harsh interrogation methods provided "high value information" and "a deeper understanding" of Al Qaeda. But this Cheney-esque assessment, as well as a remark empathizing with Bush administration officials, was cut from a memo the Obama administration released to the media. Interesting. A spokeswoman denied any deceitful intentions, claiming "the lines were cut in the normal editing process." And Blair has issued a new statement, contending that while "information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances ... the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security." Despite this clarification, many conservatives are declaring victory today, and accusing the administration of a cover-up.

• Ed Morrissey claims "the Obama administration covered up the fact that even their own DNI acknowledges that the interrogations produced actionable and critical information." This just proves "that Obama values public relations more than he does the truth." [Hot Air]

• Jennifer Rubin wonders how Obama thought he could get away with "revealing the interrogation techniques yet concealing their benefit from the American people." If we're going to do a Truth Commission, let's call up Admiral Blair as the first witness. [Contentions/Commentary]

• Erick Erickson writes that Obama "is willing to leave out key details Americans might want to know about the effectiveness and necessity of the techniques," and wonders, "How many Americans will die because of Barack Obama’s weak national security leadership?" [Red State]

• Scott Johnson doesn't buy the administration's explanation for the Blair omission. "Normal editing? More like extraordinary redaction. In this case, the only transparency involved is the transparency of the administration's lie." Obama "does not want the American public to be fully informed about the benefits that were gained from the Bush administration's policies." [Powerline]

• Greg Sargent thinks "[t]he stakes in the torture debate" have "shot up dramatically" with the Blair revelation. But the media will, and has already begun to, twist his words and their implications. "This is really not complicated: Blair believes that some valuable info was collected via torture, but that torture is not essential to our security and has done far more harm than good." [Plum Line/Who Runs Gov]

• Hannah Dreier finds that Bill Kristol has already "falsely suggested DNI Blair supports torture techniques." [County Fair/Media Matters]

• Stephen Hayes quips that "[i]t is possible, I suppose, that a series of fortunate coincidences has resulted in the public disclosure of only that information that will be politically helpful to the Obama administration. It is also possible that Dick Cheney has taken up synchronized swimming in his retirement." [Weekly Standard]

• Steve Benen points out that conservatives are now debating torture "through purely a pragmatic lens," disregarding "morality, the law, and the importance of U.S. stature and leadership." But even just looking solely at results, while it's likely "that in some instances, torture led detainees to give up information U.S. officials wanted to know," it's also probable that "torture led detainees to say all kind of things just to make the pain stop, much of which was nonsense that led to a waste of officials' time," therefore "costing American lives." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Chuck Todd and friends wonder if this is "a reason why Obama was so hesitant initially about getting dragged into this debate over interrogation." [First Read/MSNBC]