Cheney to Obama: Release more of the torture memos

Former Vice President Cheney on Monday defended Bush administration techniques to obtain intelligence from Al Qaida. "It worked," he said. "It's been enormously valuable, in terms of saving lives and preventing other mass casualty attacks against the US."

If part of the genie is out of the bottle, release the whole thing.

That's what Vice President Cheney is saying in response to President Obama's decision to release some formerly top secret memos detailing interrogation techniques used by the US against Al Quaeda suspects.

Cheney appeared on Sean Hannity's TV program last night and said that by releasing only the Justice Department memos, the whole story is not being told. And in order to make it an "honest debate" over US policy, other classified documents detailing the success of the controversial techniques should also see the light of day.

Post 9/11

Certainly no one likes to hear the techniques used to gain the intelligence, but Cheney said "in the aftermath of 9/11 with 3,000 dead Americans, 16 acres of downtown New York devastated, a big hole in the Pentagon" and anthrax attacks shortly thereafter, the US had to obtain "good first-rate intelligence" quickly to "prepare and defend against" future threats.

"That's what we did," he said. "And with the intelligence programs, terror surveillance programs, as well as the interrogation program, we set out to collect that type of surveillance."

The verdict, according to Cheney? "It worked."

He said the methods used to gather the intelligence was "enormously valuable" in saving lives and thwarting other attacks against the US.

Release more

The problem now, Cheney said, is that the public only has one side of the story. They have documents which detail the techniques. But what resulted from the techniques? Cheney said the public needs to know.

"There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity," he said. "They have not been declassified."

"I formally ask that [the memos] be declassified," he said. "I know specifically of reports that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country."


Reaction to Cheney's remarks is mixed. We'll look at the more civil of responses.

The Plank's Jason Zengerle thinks the former vice president's request is "reasonable."

"This strikes me as eminently reasonable. Up until now, the case against torture has been an easy one to make, since there's been nothing in the way of solid evidence (sorry, Marc Thiessen's fulminations don't count) that waterboarding, walling, etc. actually worked and produced useful intelligence. It's possible that these reports Cheney mentions won't amount to solid evidence either, but, at this point, all the evidence should be on the table (with redactions where necessary, of course)."

SusanChamplin tweets: Any one remember the good old days when you couldn't even find Dick Cheney with Google Earth? I miss those days.

BigTentDemocrat over at TalkLeft says let the sunshine in -- all of it: "Fair enough. Let's get it ALL out there, not just the memos Cheney wants out there. Sounds like Cheney is in on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Let's do it."

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post opines that Cheney's "decision to serve as the self-appointed defender of the Bush presidency" has left Republicans looking at the past rather than the future.

"Unfortunately for Republicans, Cheney's primary mission -- defending the Bush presidency from attacks against it -- does almost nothing to further the broader goals of the GOP heading into 2010 and 2012. In fact, it is at odds with those goals."


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