Levin: Cheney Lying About CIA Memos
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin claims that former Vice-President Dick Cheney is lying when he claims that classified CIA memos show that Bush Administration ordered torture/enhanced interrogation techniques produced actionable intelligence that saved American lives.
Levin, speaking at the Foreign Policy Association’s annual dinner in Washington on Wednesday, said an investigation by his committee into detainee abuse charges over the use of the techniques — now deemed torture by the Obama administration — “gives the lie to Mr. Cheney’s claims.”
The Michigan Democrat told the crowd that the two CIA documents that Cheney wants released “say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques.”
“I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction,” he added.
According to the article, the CIA is refusing to declassify the documents because they are subject to two pending lawsuits.
On May 14, the CIA rejected the former vice president’s request.
CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano, in a written statement, said the two documents Cheney requested are the subject of two pending lawsuits seeking the release of documents related to the interrogation program, and cannot be declassified.
I’m not familiar with this area of law, so I don’t know whether President Obama can legally declassify the memos in question or not. Anybody have a firmer idea? As it stands, if he can declassify them, I would hope that he would.
One thing I am curious about is whether Cheney’s request includes the 2004 CIA Inspector General report. A quick Google search didn’t reveal one way or another. The 2004 report was released at one point, but it was heavily redacted. However, Justice Department summaries have been released which seem to indicate that the report concluded
that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any “specific imminent attacks,” according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.
Frankly, I say bring on the declassified memos and let’s judge the facts ourselves. Personally, I would state that whether or not any valuable intelligence was obtained doesn’t change the fact that such actions are both illegal and immoral (as I am not a utilitarian or a moral relativist), but that doesn’t mean that these facts aren’t relevant to the debate.
Modified NYT Photo by Stephen Crowley.