--Four former CIA chiefs -- Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet and John Deutch -- and Obama's current CIA chief, Leon Panetta, all warned Obama not to release the documents because it could compromise intelligence operations. The director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, admitted, "High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."
--Hillary's Clinton's insolent slander of Dick Cheney's integrity to evade the question regarding the proven effectiveness of the interrogation techniques notwithstanding, the techniques worked to save lives. Before 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, his only answer to interrogators inquiring about future attacks on the United States was, "Soon, you will know." Indeed, soon they did know because they waterboarded him and extracted information leading to the capture of key al-Qaida operatives and the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that was planning to attack Los Angeles -- the "second wave" plot.
--In releasing the memos, the administration proved it was playing politics instead of promoting our values or national security, because it deliberately redacted information in those memos detailing the success of the interrogations, information that would justify the administration's actions but the release of which would not compromise our national security. So the administration released information that will undermine our trust with foreign intelligence services, compromise our intelligence capacities in the future, and enable terrorists to train and prepare for us, but it blacked out portions solely because they would place Bush officials in a more favorable light.
--Administration officials and congressional Democrats want to prosecute Bush officials, including law professors who provided good-faith legal opinions on torture -- criminalizing policy and legal differences -- when we know Congress members themselves approved of the interrogation techniques in advance.
--Reasonable people can disagree as to whether waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques constitute torture. Reasonable people can also disagree whether use of those techniques -- or even more severe techniques, which we might objectively call torture -- to save lives violates American values. It's easy for the ivory tower partisans to say "never," but I question the morality of those who would sit idly by in moral superiority while their own loved ones and others are massacred. What American value is promoted by sacrificing fellow Americans?
--Reasonable people must admit, however, that members of al-Qaida are not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections. Attorney General Eric Holder himself said in 2002 that they are not. One may reasonably say Americans should nonetheless still not engage in these interrogation practices, but they may not reasonably say that authors of legal opinions condoning the practice should be the subject of criminal retribution.
God help us all.
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