President Obama is being criticized for his decision to release those Bush-era memos about CIA interrogation techniques. Conservatives say releasing them damages our national security by telling the terrorists what we do.
Michael Hayden — who led the CIA under President Bush — says CIA officers will now be more timid and our allies will be less likely to share sensitive intelligence. Human rights groups aren’t happy that the president promised the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations won’t be prosecuted if they used techniques that were authorized at the time.
The president insists there’s nothing to gain by “spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” President Obama spent a month deciding whether or not to release the memos and consulted numerous officials. He reportedly weighed the “sanctity of covert operations” and what impact this could have on national security against the law and his belief in transparency. In the end transparency won.
The documents themselves are quite revealing… They show the CIA used waterboarding, sleep deprivation, slapping, keeping detainees naked and in some cases in a diaper, putting detainees on a liquid diet, and using a plastic neck collar to slam detainees into walls. The memos also authorized keeping suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, who was apparently afraid of bugs, in a dark, confined space — and then putting a harmless insect in the box with him, while telling him it’s a stinging insect.
President Obama banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques — what some call torture — soon after he took office; and has pledged to make sure the actions described in these memos “never take place again.”
Here’s my question to you: Is the release of the Bush era interrogation memos a mistake?
Chris from Bronx, New York writes:
Obama did the right thing. America has always enjoyed a moral high ground to get things done around the world. I reject the claim that the CIA will now be timid after the release of these memos. He has left the CIA alone, so they can continue to do their great work.
Jason from Norfolk, Virginia writes:
As soon as you can explain what good will come of releasing the memos, go ahead and release them. For the time being, I will consider it a betrayal of our national security apparatus and the obviously necessary confidence in which it must operate. No matter that some believe that “mistakes were made” - we have to have some secrets to protect our sources and methods of gaining intelligence information.
Karl from San Francisco writes:
No.The mistake is not prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Hayden, Gonzales and maybe Rumsfeld and Ashcroft or at least appointing a totally independent prosecutor to look into it. Until we correct the course of the past, we are just another third world country that tortures people and the rest of the civilized world knows it.
Katty from Oregon writes:
Jack, Absolutely it is a mistake. There are some things we just simply do not need to know. Might as well supply a blue-print to the terrorists. Believe me when I say my husband would have preferred a little waterboarding instead of the horrendous torture he underwent in Hanoi. He was there over 6 years. Where were the ACLU and all the bleeding hearts then?
No. I need to know what my country did on my behalf in all issues. Let’s hear it.
Annie from Atlanta writes:
No. The only mistake going forward would be not prosecuting and imprisoning everyone involved.