Skip to comments.Message from the Director: Release of Department of Justice Opinions
Posted on 04/16/2009 3:09:04 PM PDT by Cindy
CIA Home > News & Information > Press Releases & Statements > Message from the Director: Release of Department of Justice Opinions RSS Message from the Director: Release of Department of Justice Opinions Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta on the Release of Department of Justice Opinions
April 16, 2009
This afternoon, the Department of Justice is releasing a series of opinions that its Office of Legal Counsel provided CIA between 2002 and 2005. They guided CIAs detention and interrogation program, which ended this past January. Over the life of that initiative, CIA repeatedly sought and repeatedly received written assurances from the Department of Justice that its practices were fully consistent with the laws and legal obligations of the United States. Those operations were also approved by the President and the National Security Council principals, and were briefed to the Congressional leadership.
As this information is revealed, it is important to understand the context in which these operations occurred. In the wake of September 11th, the President turned to CIAas Presidents have done so often in our historyand entrusted our officers with the most critical of tasks: to disrupt the terrorist network that struck our country and prevent further attacks. CIA responded, as duty requires.
Although this Administration has now put into place new policies that CIA is implementing, the fact remains that CIAs detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government. For that reason, as I have continued to make clear, I will strongly oppose any effort to investigate or punish those who followed the guidance of the Department of Justice.
The President and the Attorney General have also made clear that there will be no investigation or prosecution of CIA personnel who operated within the legal system. In addition, the Department will provide legal representation to CIA personnel subject to investigations relating to these operations.
This is not the end of the road on these issues. More requests will comefrom the public, from Congress, and the Courtsand more information is sure to be released. We cannot control the debate about the past. But we can and must remain focused on our mission today and in the future. The President and the rest of our citizens are counting on all of us to help disrupt, destroy, and dismantle al Qaidaand to learn the plans of our other adversaries. We have an obligation to this nation and to each other to do all we can to protect America.
This is an exceptional organization of talented men and women, dedicated to our national security. It is an extraordinarily capable organization that quietly defends our country while following its laws and upholding its values. For that reason, I am proud to stand beside you as your Director. And for that reason, this Presidentand future Presidentswill continue to ask us to undertake the hard missions that only we can. This is an opportunity for CIA to begin a new and great chapter in our history of service to the nation.
You need to be fully confident that as you defend the nation, I will defend you.
Leon E. Panetta
The President has sent a letter to the officers of CIA, which I share with you now:
April 16, 2009
To the Men and Women of CIA:
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you are doing for the country. Your work has informed every President dating back to President Truman and it protects our people. I have come to rely on your service and I believe strongly that it is vital to the security of our country. Given the threats, challenges, and opportunities facing America, the CIA remains as critical today as it has ever been to our Nations security. While necessity requires that the country may not know all of your names or the work that you do, all of us enjoy the freedom that you have helped secure.
I also wanted to share with you a decision that I made last night. Later today, the Department of Justice will release certain memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005. I did not make this decision lightly. As you may know, the release is part of an ongoing court case. I have fought for the principle that the United States must carry out covert activities and hold information that is classified for the purposes of national security and will do so again in the future. But the release of these memos is required by our commitment to the rule of law.
Much of the information contained in the memos has been in the public domain, and the previous Administration has acknowledged portions of the program and some of the practices associated with them. My judgment on this is a matter of record. I have prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques, and I reject the false choice between our security and our ideals.
In releasing these memos, the men and women of the CIA have assurances from both myself, and from Attorney General Holder, that we will protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful. The Attorney General has assured me that these individuals will not be prosecuted and that the Government will stand by them.
The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. They need to be fully confident that as they defend the Nation, I will defend them. We will protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security.
This is a time for reflection, not retribution. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. The national greatness that you so courageously and capably uphold is embedded in Americas ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence.
It is a core American value that we are a Nation of laws, and the CIA protects and upholds that principle under extraordinarily difficult circumstances every day. My Administration will always act in accordance with the law, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again.
Thank you for your service, and God bless the work that you do.
Sincerely, Barack Obama
Posted: Apr 16, 2009 03:54 PM Last Updated: Apr 16, 2009 03:54 PM Last Reviewed: Apr 16, 2009 03:54 PM
Friday, May 01, 2009
“Andy McCarthy Said “No” to the Justice Department Today [Kathryn Jean Lopez]”
Andrew C. McCarthy
May 1, 2009
By email (to the Counterterrorism Division) and by regular mail:
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
This letter is respectfully submitted to inform you that I must decline the invitation to participate in the May 4 roundtable meeting the Presidents Task Force on Detention Policy is convening with current and former prosecutors involved in international terrorism cases. An invitation was extended to me by trial lawyers from the Counterterrorism Section, who are members of the Task Force, which you are leading.
The invitation email (of April 14) indicates that the meeting is part of an ongoing effort to identify lawful policies on the detention and disposition of alien enemy combatantsor what the Department now calls individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations. I admire the lawyers of the Counterterrorism Division, and I do not question their good faith. Nevertheless, it is quite clearmost recently, from your provocative remarks on Wednesday in Germanythat the Obama administration has already settled on a policy of releasing trained jihadists (including releasing some of them into the United States). Whatever the good intentions of the organizers, the meeting will obviously be used by the administration to claim that its policy was arrived at in consultation with current and former government officials experienced in terrorism cases and national security issues. I deeply disagree with this policy, which I believe is a violation of federal law and a betrayal of the presidents first obligation to protect the American people. Under the circumstances, I think the better course is to register my dissent, rather than be used as a prop.
Moreover, in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makerslike the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policymay be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.
Beyond that, as elucidated in my writing (including my proposal for a new national security court, which I understand the Task Force has perused), I believe alien enemy combatants should be detained at Guantanamo Bay (or a facility like it) until the conclusion of hostilities. This national defense measure is deeply rooted in the venerable laws of war and was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2004 Hamdi case. Yet, as recently as Wednesday, you asserted that, in your considered judgment, such notions violate Americas commitment to the rule of law. Indeed, you elaborated, Nothing symbolizes our [adminstrations] new course more than our decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay . President Obama believes, and I strongly agree, that Guantanamo has come to represent a time and an approach that we want to put behind us: a disregard for our centuries-long respect for the rule of law[.] (Emphasis added.)
Given your policy of conducting ruinous criminal and ethics investigations of lawyers over the advice they offer the government, and your specific position that the wartime detention I would endorse is tantamount to a violation of law, it makes little sense for me to attend the Task Force meeting. After all, my choice would be to remain silent or risk jeopardizing myself.
For what it may be worth, I will say this much. For eight years, we have had a robust debate in the United States about how to handle alien terrorists captured during a defensive war authorized by Congress after nearly 3000 of our fellow Americans were annihilated. Essentially, there have been two camps. One calls for prosecution in the civilian criminal justice system, the strategy used throughout the 1990s. The other calls for a military justice approach of combatant detention and war-crimes prosecutions by military commission. Because each theory has its downsides, many commentators, myself included, have proposed a third way: a hybrid system, designed for the realities of modern international terrorisma new system that would address the needs to protect our classified defense secrets and to assure Americans, as well as our allies, that we are detaining the right people.
There are differences in these various proposals. But their proponents, and adherents to both the military and civilian justice approaches, have all agreed on at least one thing: Foreign terrorists trained to execute mass-murder attacks cannot simply be released while the war ensues and Americans are still being targeted. We have already released too many jihadists who, as night follows day, have resumed plotting to kill Americans. Indeed, according to recent reports, a released Guantanamo detainee is now leading Taliban combat operations in Afghanistan, where President Obama has just sent additional American forces.
The Obama campaign smeared Guantanamo Bay as a human rights blight. Consistent with that hyperbolic rhetoric, the President began his administration by promising to close the detention camp within a year. The President did this even though he and you (a) agree Gitmo is a top-flight prison facility, (b) acknowledge that our nation is still at war, and (c) concede that many Gitmo detainees are extremely dangerous terrorists who cannot be tried under civilian court rules. Patently, the commitment to close Guantanamo Bay within a year was made without a plan for what to do with these detainees who cannot be tried. Consequently, the Detention Policy Task Force is not an effort to arrive at the best policy. It is an effort to justify a bad policy that has already been adopted: to wit, the Obama administration policy to release trained terrorists outright if thats what it takes to close Gitmo by January.
Obviously, I am powerless to stop the administration from releasing top al Qaeda operatives who planned mass-murder attacks against American citieslike Binyam Mohammed (the accomplice of Dirty Bomber Jose Padilla) whom the administration recently transferred to Britain, where he is now at liberty and living on public assistance. I am similarly powerless to stop the administration from admitting into the United States such alien jihadists as the 17 remaining Uighur detainees. According to National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, the Uighurs will apparently live freely, on American taxpayer assistance, despite the facts that they are affiliated with a terrorist organization and have received terrorist paramilitary training. Under federal immigration law (the 2005 REAL ID Act), those facts render them excludable from the United States. The Uighurs impending release is thus a remarkable development given the Obama administrations propensity to deride its predecessors purported insensitivity to the rule of law.
I am, in addition, powerless to stop the President, as he takes these reckless steps, from touting his Detention Policy Task Force as a demonstration of his national security seriousness. But I can decline to participate in the charade.
Finally, let me repeat that I respect and admire the dedication of Justice Department lawyers, whom I have tirelessly defended since I retired in 2003 as a chief assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. It was a unique honor to serve for nearly twenty years as a federal prosecutor, under administrations of both parties. It was as proud a day as I have ever had when the trial team I led was awarded the Attorney Generals Exceptional Service Award in 1996, after we secured the convictions of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and his underlings for waging a terrorist war against the United States. I particularly appreciated receiving the award from Attorney General Renoas I recounted in Willful Blindness, my book about the case, without her steadfastness against opposition from short-sighted government officials who wanted to release him, the blind sheikh would never have been indicted, much less convicted and so deservedly sentenced to life-imprisonment. In any event, Ive always believed defending our nation is a duty of citizenship, not ideology. Thus, my conservative political views aside, Ive made myself available to liberal and conservative groups, to Democrats and Republicans, whove thought tapping my experience would be beneficial. It pains me to decline your invitation, but the attendant circumstances leave no other option.
Very truly yours,
Andrew C. McCarthy
cc: Sylvia T. Kaser and John DePue
National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section
Ping to post no. 42.
Mon, 05/04/2009 - 5:10pm
By Thomas Hegghammer
SNIPPET: “Switch to the jihadi Internet forums, where thousands of radical Islamists log on every day to debate religion, politics, and the latest news from the war on terror. Last week there were debates on all kinds of topics, from swine flu to the financial crisis to the alleged capture of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. But there was virtually nothing about the torture memos.”
SNIPPET: “The reason for the silence on the forums is that al Qaeda couldn’t care less about the current U.S. debate about torture. The questions of who signed which memos when, whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 80 or 180 times, and whether a millipede was inserted into Abu Zubaydah’s confinement box are only interesting for those who did not expect the United States to behave this way. And the jihadists are not among them.
For a start, al Qaeda never cared about the black sites in the first place. It never expected its leaders to be treated gently, and it knew the dungeons of Cairo were infinitely worse anyway.”
Snippet: “Thomas Hegghammer is a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment. He is the coauthor of Al Qaeda in Its Own Words and author of the forthcoming Jihad in Saudi Arabia. He blogs about jihadi Web sites at www.jihadica.com.”
“Source: Charges Unlikely for Lawyers Over Interrogation Memos”
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
SNIPPET: “The person noted that the investigative report was still in draft form and subject to revisions. Attorney General Eric Holder also may make his own determination about what steps to take once the report has been finalized.
The Justice Department notified two senators by letter that a key deadline in the inquiry expired Monday, signaling that most of the work on the matter was completed. The letter does not mention the possibility of criminal charges, nor does it name the lawyers under scrutiny.”
Note: The following text is a quote:
The Torture of American Soldiers
FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE.com ^ | Wednesday, May 06, 2009 | By: Jamie Glazov
Posted on May 7, 2009 1:51:44 AM PDT by Cindy
SNIPPET: “Frontpage Interviews guest today is Dave Gaubatz, the first U.S. civilian (1811) Federal Agent deployed to Iraq in 2003. He is currently the Director of the Mapping Sharia Project and the Owner of DG Counter-terrorism Publishing...”
SNIPPET: “Below is a sampling of the results of the interrogations agents and I obtained: I have the documents, photographs, and contact information of Iraqis and U.S. personnel who were also aware. Anything I write or speak about can be verified. Simply ask VP Biden and our President to release the complete intelligence reports my team and I wrote in 2003.
1. When the members of the 507th were ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq, Private Jessica Lynch was initially taken to an Iraqi military base hospital in the Nasiriyah area (not the civilian hospital). Some of the other 507th were killed during the ambush, and others were captured and then murdered.
2. I visited the military hospital Private Lynch was held and it can be best described as ‘filth’. Jessica suffered physically and psychologically at this military facility.
3. When our brave troops began bombing this Iraqi base, the Iraqis decided to move Private Lynch to the Nasiriyah civilian hospital. The leaders of the Baath Party were using the basement of the hospital and its many tunnels as sanctuary.
4. Jessica Lynch was drugged, tied up, and placed under the stretcher in a Red Crescent vehicle. The Director of the Red Crescent was a senior member of the Baath Party and was allowing the use of ambulances to transport weapons and Saddam supporters (military and Saddam’s civilian Fedeyeen forces) throughout Iraq. Our U.S. military on the ground had been informed the ‘Rules of Engagement’ did not allow searching mosques, schools, or Red Crescent ambulances. U.S. military personnel died as a result of this.
5. A few days before Private Lynch was rescued, she was placed in Saddams civilian hospital.
6. The doctor of Jessica Lynch and a brave Iraqi lady was ‘Hameeda’. She is the sister-in-law of my good friend Mohammed Odeh Al Rehaief. Mohammed is the Iraqi lawyer who had provided intelligence to U.S. forces which enabled Jessica to be rescued.
7. Jessica Lynch’s hospital bed was located near a window overlooking a soccer field near the grounds of the hospital. She had been forced to watch as some of her team members were tortured, beheaded and buried.
8. One agent and I had interviewed the Saddam Hospital staff and determined the location of the dead Americans who had been killed during the 507th ambush.
9. The Director took us to a position on the soccer field and said the 507th members had been buried in front of the soccer goal posts, so the children would run over their graves while playing soccer. This was to dishonor our troops.
10. The Director informed us the 507th members had been beheaded and many had been dragged through the streets of Nasiriayh.
11. The night before Jessica Lynch was rescued; the Fedeyeen had threatened to take Jessica Lynch from her hospital bed, use a Red Crescent vehicle, and go into the desert area outside of Nasiriyah. The Fedeyeen were going to bury Jessica alive in the vehicle. The doctor of Jessica was able to talk the Fedeyeen out of removing her this night. The next day our troops rescued her.
12. I wrote numerous intelligence reports pertaining to these tragedies and others. Senator Biden and many others were aware of the tortures our troops underwent, and the interrogation results I and others had conducted on Enemy of Prisoners of War (EPW), and the results.
FP: Can you mention any other intelligence you were able to obtain during interrogations?
Gaubatz: I have hundreds of pages of personal notes, photographs, names, dates, locations, and yes, VP Biden was aware of intelligence we were obtaining from EPWs. He nor any politician ever asked how we were obtaining.”
SNIPPET: “Gaubatz: I have never written or said anything I cant substantiate under oath when required to do so. Will VP Biden, Pelosi or others do the same under oath?”
(Click on the article link to read the whole article.)
ADDING 1 link to post no. 44:
“Intelligence Report: Pelosi Briefed on Use of Interrogation Tactics in Sept.
May 07, 2009 6:02 PM
SNIPPET: “ABC News Rick Klein reports: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligences office and obtained by ABC News.
The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosis statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques.
The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
The meeting is described as a Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.
EITs stand for enhanced interrogation techniques, a classification of special interrogation tactics that includes waterboarding.”
FOX NEWS.com - Video: “WHEN DID PELOSI KNOW?
CIA: Pelosi briefed on tough techniques”
(May 8, 2009)
“Phone call to Pelosi’s SF office inquiring whether she will confirm or deny resignation plans”
call to Pelosi’s SF disctrict office ^ | 5-8-09 | dfu
Posted on May 8, 2009 6:15:31 PM PDT by doug from upland
Note: The following post is a quote:
GOP wants intel docs declassified
The Hill ^ | May 11, 2009 | Reid Wilson
Posted on May 11, 2009 5:24:40 PM PDT by jazusamo
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) has called on the intelligence community to declassify documents showing what certain members of Congress were told about the harsh interrogation techniques employed in the war on terrorism.
In a letter to CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair on Friday, Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, asked that the so-called Memoranda for the Record (MFR) he reviewed last week be released.
Memoranda for the Record indicate subjects discussed at the classified briefings, as well as who attended.
The request comes after a memo prepared by the CIA listed 40 briefings for members of Congress and their staffs over the past six and a half years. The records indicated that during these briefings, several lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were briefed on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Hoekstras letter is the latest step in a campaign to associate Pelosi with the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects. Republicans hope to delay any potential probes into Bush administration officials conduct during the war on terror.
Though some Democrats want what could amount to a truth commission for the last six years, Republicans say prominent Democrats like Pelosi should be asked to testify as well.
The debate came after the Obama administration publicly released Department of Justice (DoJ) memos that laid out guidelines under which CIA officials could use the controversial interrogation techniques, which the president himself has described as torture.
Hoekstra argues that since the DoJ memos were released, there would be no harmful effects from releasing the MFRs.
Given that the underlying programs have now been publicly disclosed by the president and that a general description of each briefing has been declassified, I am requesting that the [MFRs] be reviewed for declassification and publicly released as soon as possible, Hoekstra wrote.
Those techniques include waterboarding, which Pelosi maintains she was not aware of. Justice Department documents show one terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002, the month before the only briefing at which Pelosi has acknowledged being present.
The American people should be given the full picture on what was known and agreed to on Capitol Hill on a bipartisan basis about the enhanced interrogation program, Hoekstra said in a statement. I think the administration should review the CIA notes and records from the briefings and, consistent with national security, make them available to the public.
The CIA could not be reached for comment. The agency is not required to release the documents, although it has made them available to members of Congress and key staff for review at the agencys Langley headquarters.
The Intelligence Committees top Republican denied that the call for declassification was tied to Pelosi, instead insisting it would shed light on congressional oversight efforts.
This effort is not about one person, but what lawmakers in this institution, in both parties, were aware of and supported at the time, he said. Releasing these records will help clear the air. Accountability for enhanced interrogation doesnt begin with lawyers who offered opinions or interrogators in the field, it begins right here in the halls of Congress.
In a statement released Friday, Pelosi said she had been informed only of techniques the CIA might use in the future.
Records show Pelosi aide Michael Sheehy attended a 2003 briefing with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) in which CIA officers disclosed the use of waterboarding on Zubaydah.
Pelosi acknowledged in December 2007 that she had learned about the meeting and had concurred with a protest Harman filed with the CIA.
Democrats are stressing that Pelosi and Harman were not explicitly told of waterboarding until the 2003 briefing, at which point it had been used for six months, and that it continued after Harman protested. They also note that the House passed legislation that would have banned waterboarding months after Democrats took control in 2007.
Hoekstra has maintained for weeks that Pelosi knew about waterboarding used on terrorists and terrorism suspects. Last week, Hoekstra told The Hill he would be open to hearings on when certain members of Congress knew about the enhanced interrogation techniques.
I wouldnt have a problem with the Intelligence Committee or the Judiciary Committee having hearings on this, he said on Friday. If [House Judiciary Committee Chairman] John Conyers [Jr. (D-Mich.)] wants to have hearings, they shouldnt call in the Department of Justice attorneys as their first witnesses. The first people that should be called in and held accountable ought to be Congress.
Former Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.), who was the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel in September 2002, told The Washington Post on Monday that he was not told about waterboarding during a briefing he received around the same time Pelosi received hers.
CIA documents say Graham and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) received briefings on techniques used on Zubaydah, though Graham said he was never told about the enhanced tactics.
Mike Soraghan contributed to this article.
By: Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 12, 2009
SNIPPET: “What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?
Thats hardly the question that the Democratic House Speaker wanted asked when she recently threw her support behind the Orwellian-sounding Truth Commission to investigate former Bush administration staffers who drafted the harsh interrogation techniques that Democrats now call torture. But with evidence mounting that Pelosi was briefed on those same interrogation methods as far back as 2002 and did nothing to oppose their use Pelosi may soon become the object of the political inquisition she once hoped to lead.
Last week, for instance, it emerged that one of Pelosis central claims that she, along with other Congressional Democrats, was entirely in the dark about the kinds of interrogation tactics being used on high-level terrorist detainees was almost certainly fiction. Records released to Congress by the CIA revealed that Pelosi was among the Congressional leaders who in 2002 were informed that enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) had been used on al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. Specifically, the records indicated that during a September 4, 2002 meeting, Pelosi was one of those briefed on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed. There was no specific mention of waterboarding, but given that the Zubaydah was one of only three detainees on whom the procedure was used, there is every reason to think that Pelosi knew full well what interrogators were doing.
The point is significant because it directly contradicts Pelosis previous claim that she had been told only that enhanced interrogation techniques could be used but not that they were. We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used, Pelosi said last month, insisting that she was informed only that they could be used, but not that they would be. After last weeks revelations, that defense no longer holds water.”
“Lie Exposed: Pelosi’s Power, Oversight and Control of the CIA after being briefed on Waterboarding”
(Added May 13, 2009)
Thursday, May 14, 2009
“Confirming Cheney by Refusing to Declassify Memos”
05/14 12:52 PM
“Obama Administration to Cheney: Request Denied”
Posted by Stephen F. Hayes on May 14, 2009 12:16 PM
Note: The following post is a quote:
Dems: CIA briefers may have broken law
Politico ^ | 5/14/09 | MANU RAJU
Posted on May 14, 2009 3:59:48 PM PDT by HospiceNurse
Democrats on the House intelligence committee said Thursday that CIA officers broke the law in 2002 if they told Nancy Pelosi then that they had not yet engaged in waterboarding.
“If they make a false report, absolutely it’s illegal,” said Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “If they fail to make a report when they’re obligated to that is also illegal a violation of the National Security Act.”
Said CIA Spokesman George Little: It is not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.
(Excerpt) Read more at politico.com ...
stepping back in time...
ON THE INTERNET:
“Pathetic: Pelosi plays down CIA criticism, blames Bush instead”
POSTED AT 7:07 PM ON MAY 15, 2009 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
Note: The following text is a quote:
Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami
For Immediate Release
Pelosi Statement on Panetta Message to CIA Employees
Washington, D.C. Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in response to a message today to CIA Employees from Director Leon Panetta:
We all share great respect for the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community who are deeply committed to the safety and security of the American people. My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe. What is important now is to be united in our commitment to ensuring the security of our country; that, and how Congress exercises its oversight responsibilities, will continue to be my focus as we move forward.
Note: This is the source url for post no. 56:
Note: The following text is a quote:
CIA Home > News & Information > Press Releases & Statements > Message from the Director: Turning Down the Volume
Message from the Director: Turning Down the Volume
Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta: Turning Down the Volume
May 15, 2009
There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after Im gone. But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.
Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.
My adviceindeed, my directionto you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.
We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication. Our task is to tell it like it iseven if thats not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.
Leon E. Panetta
Posted: May 15, 2009 02:46 PM
Last Updated: May 15, 2009 02:46 PM
Last Reviewed: May 15, 2009 02:46 PM
A Spy’s View of Pelosi’s War on the CIA
FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE.com ^ | Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | Ion Mihai Pacepa
Posted on May 21, 2009 2:43:41 AM PDT by Cindy
By: FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I paid with two death sentencesfrom my native Romaniafor the privilege of serving the CIA, our first line of defense against terrorists and nuclear despots, and I am appalled to see the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and third in line for the White House undermining the security of the United States for personal political gain.
Nancy Pelosis blistering public attacks on the CIA will severely damage its ability to recruit ranking sources in enemy countries for years to come.
No, the CIA officers will not run for coverthey are anonymous heroes, not cowards. But the potential high-ranking CIA sources in Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and many other tyrannical countries will. Espionage is a matter of life and death. From my own experience as both intelligence recruiter and intelligence defector I know that no high ranking official puts his/her life in the hands of a foreign espionage organization publicly pilloried by its own government.
Trust is the most valuable asset of any espionage service, no matter it
(Excerpt) Read more at frontpagemag.com ...
CSPAN Video of former VP Cheney Here:
Note: The following text is a quote:
PEECHES & TESTIMONY
Remarks by Richard B. Cheney
By Richard B. Cheney | American Enterprise Institute
(May 21, 2009)
Richard B. Cheney
Peter Holden Photography for AEI
On May 21, 2009, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, now a member of AEI’s Board of Trustees, spoke at AEI on the serious and ongoing threat terrorism poses to the United States. He was introduced by AEI president Arthur C. Brooks. His remarks as prepared for delivery follow.
Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.
I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.
Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen—a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.
The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do. We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for America have not changed.
Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people. Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I do so as one who was there every day of the Bush administration who supported the policies when they were made, and without hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.
When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.
Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after September 11, 2001 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America . . . and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.
That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.
9/11 caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s, America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis. The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact—crime scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed.
That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least—but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat—what the Congress called “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.
We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit by a foreign enemy—leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass—a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.
For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11 itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at 500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments later I found myself in a fortified White House command post somewhere down below.
There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many Americans remember from that day—word of the crash in Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.
To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.
We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations: the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network and the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan—and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive—and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions—and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event—coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority. It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the American people.
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations.
In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.
Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.
By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over this decision.
Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.
Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.
Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.
One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all to see—including the enemy—let me draw your attention to some points that are routinely overlooked.
It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed—the mastermind of 9/11, who has also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.
We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.
Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.
In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.
Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.
I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.
Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.
The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned, one lead that goes unpursued, can bring on catastrophe—it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.
Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster”—never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.
And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are—or what they would do if we let them loose.
On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland, and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states, these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out of the most recent war supplemental.
The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.
In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.
It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want—just don’t bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.
Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”
It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one way or the other.
Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.
As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion, our belief in equal rights for women, our support for Israel, our cultural and political influence in the world—these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the nineteen recruits who boarded those planes on September 11, 2001.
The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world—for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences—and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for—our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.
What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance program have without question made our country safer. Every senior official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by the programs we put in place.
This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off, while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision they make in the future.
Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.
As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.
I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations—and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration—the missing twenty-six words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.”
If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs—on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.
For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history—not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during our administration and afterward—the recriminations, the second-guessing, the charges of “hubris”—my mind always goes back to that moment.
To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11, President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office—which was to be another 2,689 days—there would never be another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris—it would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this, and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville were only the beginning of the violence.
Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would “include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed true to our word.
To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.
Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As in all warfare, there have been costs—none higher than the sacrifices of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so many of our own—all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic souls who died trying to save them.
For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.
Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.
Thank you very much.
Richard B. Cheney, the forty-sixth vice president of the United States, is a trustee of AEI.