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Two of Those Senate-Committee-Requested Torture Documents Are the Ones Cheney Wants

It read to me yesterday like the torture documents requested in the Senate intelligence committee’s intelligence authorization bill were probably documents from the CIA supporting the dubious proposition that torturing detainees yielded valuable intelligence. But it’s unclear — they’re, of course, still classified — and some progressive senators, like Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), voted for the provision. Wyden spokeswoman Jennifer Hoelzer emails to explain that Wyden’s vote goes beyond his general support for open government:

In this case, however, his support for the amendment goes beyond just honoring the public’s right to know. The former Vice President has pointed to these documents as supporting his point of view, that torture yields valuable information. And while having seen the documents Senator Wyden can’t comment on their contents, he has said repeatedly that he is not sure why the former Vice President finds them so convincing. Declassifying them, either now or as part of the Intelligence Committee’s interrogation study, would help us get beyond the he-said-she-said aspects of the debate, so that people can evaluate the facts for themselves.

So clearly two of the documents are the ones that Dick Cheney requested CIA declassify in order to bolster his pro-torture case a few months ago. Hoelzer continues:

I also believe that it is worth noting that in assessing whether torture has produced useful information, it’s important to remember that asking questions has pretty much always been an effective means of gathering intelligence. (Reporters do it with me all the time.) The question here is whether coupling questioning prisoners with coercive interrogation techniques made the questioning MORE effective. Again, without divulging anything classified, Senator Wyden hasn’t seen much evidence of that. Note that even the [Republicans'] statement does not state that coercive techniques work . They merely state that these docs will address questions about the value of the information provided by certain detainees. This only helps Cheney’s case if you conflate the two arguments, as Cheney frequently attempts to do.

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