April 14, 2009

WHAT WOULD W DO?:

Obama Weighs Airing CIA Tactics (EVAN PEREZ and SIOBHAN GORMAN, 4/13/09, WSJ)

The Obama administration is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations, despite a push by some top officials to make the information public, according to people familiar with the discussions. [...]

[T]op CIA officials and some in the White House argue that disclosing such secrets will undermine the agency's credibility with foreign intelligence services. They also say revealing operational details will embroil officers in probes of activities that were cleared by Justice lawyers at the time.

In the middle is deputy national-security adviser John Brennan, a former CIA official, has generally sided with the CIA, the senior administration official said.

Intelligence officials also believe that making the techniques public would give al Qaeda a propaganda tool just as the administration is stepping up its fight against the terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some former administration officials have also argued that releasing all of the memos could help terrorists train to endure the most extreme interrogation techniques.

The 2005 Bradbury memos represent an effort by the Bush administration to keep the CIA program of "enhanced" interrogations of certain detainees on a legal footing after the Bush administration in late 2004 withdrew earlier Justice Department memos on interrogation.

Leon Panetta, the CIA director, has been described by some officials as initially favoring release, then later pulling back from that view. Other officials say Mr. Panetta always favored releasing only legal outlines, and not details of the techniques allowed.

Making those details public, one official said, would make CIA officials disinclined to take any risks in the future.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2009 7:49 PM
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