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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama Stirs The Pot On Interrogations

Barack Obama's decision to release only certain portions of memos regarding the use of harsh interrogation tactics against terrorists with information on pending attacks against the United States or interests of the United States, has caused a stir, leading everyone to be unhappy and leaves the question for those insisting on prosecution, who exactly do they want prosecuted?

The decision to release segments of memos telling about the legal questions asked of the Justice Department, while blacking out the portions that told of yielded results, has now brought about calls to release the results segments as we spoke about yesterday after articles revealed some of the "high value" information those tactics garnered.

Somehow Barack Obama felt he could stir the pot in such a way where it would be good for him politically and then everyone would forget?


Not so fast.

President Barack Obama’s attempt to project legal and moral clarity on coercive CIA interrogation methods has instead done the opposite — creating confusion and political vulnerability over an issue that has inflamed both the left and right.

In the most recent instance, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged in a memo to the intelligence community that Bush-era interrogation practices yielded had "high-value information,” then omitted that admission from a public version of his assessment.

That leaves a top Obama administration official appearing to validate claims by former Vice President Dick Cheney that waterboarding and other techniques the White House regards as torture were effective in preventing terrorist attacks. And the press release created the impression the administration was trying to suppress this conclusion.

Now Obama has critics on both sides, one set wants the full memos with all the information, not just what is politically safe for Obama and others and another segment of the population wants heads to roll.

A Democratic strategist close to the White House said: “The president looked resolute, and like he had threaded the needle perfectly on the substance: The heat from the right was preposterous, and the heat from the left was manageable. But now they look like the scarecrow, pointing in both directions. They got the policy right, but they look confused and beaten down by critics."

So, what heads would they like to roll?

Wall Street Journal has a piece by one of the many in Congress, Representative Pete Hoekstra, that was aware and who knows that Congress "unanimously" approved of those interrogation tactics.

Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

Then we have the issue of whether the release and any followup investigations will do to our ability to protect ourselves as a nation:

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair got it right last week when he noted how easy it is to condemn the enhanced interrogation program "on a bright sunny day in April 2009." Reactions to this former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation.

George Tenet, who served as CIA director under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, believes the enhanced interrogations program saved lives. He told CBS's "60 Minutes" in April 2007: "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."

Last week, Mr. Blair made a similar statement in an internal memo to his staff when he wrote that "[h]igh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country."

Yet last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the details of the enhanced interrogation program. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has stated clearly that declassifying the memos will make it more difficult for the CIA to defend the nation.

I agree wholehearted with Mr. Hoekstra. Perhaps a "full" investigation is required, into who did what, who knew what, what was done, what the results were at the time and what the results of releasing all this information, for political purposes, has done to our ability to protect this country.

Read the whole WSJ piece.

What Barack Obama has done is bring a firestorm right to his doorstep by thinking anyone is crazy enough to want just a drop of information without demanding to see it all, know everything. Once the door is open it is very hard to close as Obama just found out.

His political maneuvering has just placed himself in a tight corner and placed any members of congress that were part of those meetings, right there with him.

Hot Air reminds us of one of those people already confirmed to have been in on those congressional meeting..... Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

The tap dancing required to get out from under this self made avalanche should be interesting to watch in the coming weeks or months.