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THE BRIEFING ROOM THE BLOG
Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 7:50 pm
What Makes the United States Special
Last week the President released memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 as part of an ongoing court case. The memos discussed techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects during that period, techniques that President Obama has disavowed. Today the President visited CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia to speak to CIA employees directly. Telling them of his great faith in them, and the faith that the American people have in them, he went on to discuss precisely why he has decided to change interrogation policy for the United States:
Now, I have put an end to the interrogation techniques described in those OLC memos, and I want to be very clear and very blunt. Ive done so for a simple reason: because I believe that our nation is stronger and more secure when we deploy the full measure of both our power and the power of our values - including the rule of law. I know I can count on you to do exactly that.
There have been some conversations that Ive had with senior folks here at Langley in which I think people have expressed understandable anxiety and concern. So I want to make a point that I just made in the smaller group. I understand that its hard when you are asked to protect the American people against people who have no scruples and would willingly and gladly kill innocents. Al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution. Many of our adversaries are not constrained by a belief in freedom of speech, or representation in court, or rule of law. Im sure that sometimes it seems as if that means were operating with one hand tied behind our back, or that those who would argue for a higher standard are naïve. I understand that. You know, I watch the cable shows once in a while. (Laughter.)
What makes the United States special, and what makes you special, is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when its hard, not just when its easy; even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when its expedient to do so. Thats what makes us different.
So, yes, youve got a harder job. And so do I. And thats okay, because thats why we can take such extraordinary pride in being Americans. And over the long term, that is why I believe we will defeat our enemies, because were on the better side of history.
So dont be discouraged by whats happened in the last few weeks. Dont be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially weve made some mistakes. Thats how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States, and thats why you should be proud to be members of the CIA. (Applause.)
“This is Torture?”
By Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, April 21, 2009
SNIPPET: “The Obama administration got one thing right and a great deal wrong with its release last week of the so-called interrogation memos, a series of legal documents produced by the Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel and detailing some of the harsher interrogation methods used by the CIA against high-level al-Qaeda operatives.
To its credit, the administration vetoed the possibility of legal prosecution for either the memos Justice Department authors or the CIA personnel who conducted the interrogations, rejecting appeals from the anti-anti-terror Left, most prominently the ACLU, which had sued for the memos release. Despite a backlash from its partisan base, the administration has stood firm on that decision, with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel being only the latest figure to affirm that the administration will not be pursuing the retribution that many of its supporters demand.
Nevertheless, the administration erred in releasing the memos. The reason has been most compellingly stated by former CIA director Michael Hayden. Hayden points out that disclosing details of U.S. interrogation tactics will only allow terrorist suspects to resist intelligence questioning in the future by revealing the outer limits that any American would ever go in terms of interrogating an al-Qaeda terrorist. Haydens argument holds true even if the tactics described in the memos are no longer used, and even if, as the administration argues, many of the details had previously been made public in reports on detainee treatment by the Red Cross. Interrogation techniques are effective only to the extent that they confound a detainees expectations about the kinds of treatment he may receive. By revealing the precise boundaries of that treatment, and by making them official, the administration has made al-Qaedas job that much easier.
The administrations other mistake was to endorse the view, promulgated by the Left, that the techniques described in the memos deserve to be called torture. Even a cursory examination indicates otherwise.”
Note: The following text is a quote:
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
WASHINGTON, DC 20511
April 21, 2009
Statement by the Director of National Intelligence
Mr. Dennis C. Blair
I recommended to the president that the administration release these memos, and I made clear that the CIA should not be punished for carrying out legal orders.
I also strongly supported the president when he declared that we would no longer use enhanced interrogation techniques. We do not need these techniques to keep America safe.
The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.
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