Former vice-president Dick Cheney took a gamble yesterday when he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he’d requested that certain CIA memos detailing what he called the “success” of controversial interrogation techniques be revealed. He originally made the request as part of research for his book, but revealed the request in light of President Obama’s recent release of reports outlining exactly what disturbing methods interrogators used to glean information from prisoners. “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,” he said. “I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was.”
This is a gamble, because Obama probably won’t release the classified information gleaned from the interrogations — because he won’t want to validate them or torture in general. But he might! Until then, Cheney is gambling that he’ll continue to be able to do what he always does, which is to talk about “secret intel” that always backs up his arguments without ever having to provide it — and thereby be able to characterize it in whatever manner suits him.
But by pushing for the release of these memos, Cheney may just be inadvertently joining the bandwagon pushing for an investigation into the interrogations and the complicated legal process by which they were allowed to occur. This is the other half of his gamble. By calling for transparency on this, Cheney is putting the legal colleagues he asked to twist the law in danger. The more the American public learns and thinks about all of this, the more it’s going to ask for someone’s head — and Obama’s already protecting the CIA, who were merely acting out what they were told was permissible. Administration officials say that the Bush legal team isn’t out of their sights, though. Sanction, disbarment, and prosecution aren’t off the table. At this point, with so many forces from both sides of the aisle moving toward an investigation, it almost seems inevitable.
Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations [NYT]
Cheney demands release of CIA memos proving torture ‘success’ [Guardian UK]
Earlier: Is the Administration Doing the Right Thing on the Torture Memos?