Former Vice President Dick Cheney isn’t satisfied with the release of the latest batch of Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel torture memos by the Obama administration last week. Now, he says, the government should release more memos — this time not just the ones describing the torture, but also the ones that say how successful it was.
“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort,” Cheney said in an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity aired Monday night.
Well, if there are memos showing that torture and the CIA’s other “extreme” interrogation techniques were successful, I’d like to see those, too — all of them. Including the ones that show that detainees like Abu Zubaydah gave up the most important information they had before they were waterboarded — and nothing of much use afterwards. And while we’re at it, let’s see the proof that the techniques were successful — that the information these torture victims offered actually turned out to be reliable.
As I pointed out yesterday, whether policymakers had strong, convincing evidence that these techniques were actually going to deter the next terrorist attack is critical to the legal analyses that justified them. If the CIA didn’t have very good reason to believe that sticking a guy in a box with insects or slamming him repeatedly against the wall or depriving him of food and sleep for days at a time would yield critically important information, then the whole legal justification about how this was all done for a very important government purpose quickly falls apart. (Set aside for a moment whether these sort of techniques could ever really be considered legal standing on their own.)
So Cheney’s right: if there are memos demonstrating the CIA’s success, bring them on — let’s see all the relevant evidence and then see just how legal and justified it all was.
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