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April 17th, 2009
10:23 AM ET

Fmr. Bush Adviser: Memo may hinder terror war

Frances Townsend speaks to CNN's John Roberts about newly-released torture memos.
Frances Townsend speaks to CNN's John Roberts about newly-released torture memos.

A Bush-era memo released by the White House Thursday revealed interrogation methods used by the Bush administration including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and forced nudity. Some of the methods Bush lawyers approved included keeping detainees naked, in diapers or in cramped confinement. Some former Bush officials say President Obama’s decision to declassify these memos is putting the country in danger.

Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush, spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s American Morning Friday.

John Roberts: What is your take on the release of these memos? These were among the Bush administration's most closely-guarded secrets.

Fran Townsend: John, we should be clear with our viewers. Even during my time in the administration, I wasn't a part of the policy discussions but I will tell you here is my concern about the release of them. Regardless of what you think on the issue of whether or not waterboarding is torture, there were legal documents created and relied upon by career intelligence officials who then implemented the program. There were very strict controls on the program. These people relied on them and, now, to release them and to subject these people, these career professionals to a sort of public humiliation and opprobrium and then the potential of a congressional investigation really will make our intelligence community risk-averse.

I think that is what Mike Hayden, the former director of CIA, is getting at when he says “look you’re going to make us less safe.” I think there’s real potential in that. I think the administration needs to come out and tell us why did you release them? I think they made the right decision to say they are not going to prosecute intelligence officials and I think Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, made a very strong statement on that issue. But I will tell you, then why did you release them? What was the purpose? Because we've won legal cases in the courts to protect those memos up to now from public disclosure.

Read more: Bush-era interrogation memo: No torture without 'severe pain' intent

Roberts: Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement, “The president has halted the use of the interrogation techniques described in these opinions, and this administration has made clear from day one that it will not condone torture. We are disclosing these memos consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.” So this administration has promised greater transparency to the American people. These methods are no longer in use. Why not disclose them?

Townsend: I think it’s perfectly legitimate for this attorney general and this president to decide they’re not going to use this technique. But by disclosing them you've really handcuffed future administrations. And by the way, the president has appointed a group to look at the effectiveness and use of these techniques. And that group has not come out with their findings yet and it really does foreclose their ability to say they are effective. In this morning's "Wall Street Journal" there’s an op-ed by Director Hayden and former Attorney General Mukasey, that gives the example of how the use of techniques led to the ultimate capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And so there is an argument to be made that in limited circumstances these techniques can be effective in preventing terrorist attacks.

Roberts: According to this memo, the techniques included walling, which is pushing a person against a wall. It was intended to shock, more than anything. A facial slap, which was an insult slap, according to the memo. Cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box and waterboarding. You said you weren't a part of the policy development but were you aware of these techniques and were you concerned they might have crossed the legal line?

Townsend: To tell you John, I was not a part of either the legal discussion or the policy discussion. And the enumerated list of techniques that you've gone through was probably one of the most closely guarded secrets even within the administration. I was aware that there was a program and it was later on that I understood not simply what the techniques were but that there were medical personnel involved, that the techniques could only be approved by the Director of CIA.

Roberts: Were you concerned they might be illegal?

Townsend: I had never seen the legal memos just as most Americans had not seen them, I had never seen the legal reasoning. What I knew was OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] had issued an opinion finding… going through an analysis that held them to be legal.

Read the memos (PDF) 1
Read the memos (PDF) 2
Read the memos (PDF) 3
Read the memos (PDF) 4


Filed under: Controversy • Terrorism
soundoff (376 Responses)
  1. badger

    Obama and the ACLU have put every man woman and child in this country in danger. For all of those who are against the torture techniques, I doubt you have anyone who was lost during the 9-11 attacks and you should be kissing those who, like Bush saved your butts from another attack.

    In the eyes of half of America Obama is the Messiah but make no mistake. In the eyes of the terrorits, he is NOT Allah. They would take his head of his shoulders as soon as look at him. I can only hope when the next attack occurs that they choose a worth while target like Obama, Pelosi or the families of those of the ACLU all who put Americas interests aside for their own political gain. Thanks guys. You have made the terrorists jobs much safer for them and screwed America in the process.

    April 22, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  2. Dale Weatherwax

    Torture is evil.
    are we evil?

    April 20, 2009 at 6:12 am |
  3. Art

    This is so typical washington. Politics as usual. I think Frances is lying by the way.

    April 19, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  4. kodewayne

    Thank you Bernice. Thank you.

    April 18, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  5. J.E.

    "We executed Sadam for war crimes, "

    Bernice:

    Last time I read the coverage. The U.S. did not put him on trial. The U.S. did not convict him. And the U.S. did not execute him. If he was brought back to the U.S. I doubt if he had been convicted the death penatly would have been imposed.

    Next, please do not equate the sitution in Iraq, Guantanamo and torture by comparing it to what happened in the Holocaust. You are insulting all those who survived the Holocaust and lessening what happened there by equating U.S. actions to Nazi action. I know I am offended on behalf of my relatives, those who both died and those that managed to survive.

    I am so glad Obama is president and rather than you or Jonboy. I did not agree at all with Bush and Iraq, never did never will. However, the things that the US did or condoned in Iran and Gitmo are in no way the same as what happened in the Death Camps, they are in no way the same as what happened in other genocidal madness like the Cambodian Killing fields.

    Obama's brings reason to his leadership of the U.S. I can only hope more find some themselves.

    April 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  6. Bernice

    By the way, just to keep you informed here ...a good part of the people in those prisons were not even terrorists! We just made them do "sick" acts to one another, while naked in front of women, and some died as a direct resolt of the torture imposed upon them. These were innocent people. There were guilty ones, but some were not! What have we become?

    April 18, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  7. Bernice

    Ian, Laurel, MD Are we an honorable country of laws?? Or ...did the events of the past 100 years cause us to become as corrupt as the rest of the world? Let the past remain in the past, he says? Forget? We were raised to believe that we were a "cut above the rest" in this country, and that those found guilty by thier peers of crimes to humanity, would be prosecuted in a court of law and recieve the swift hand of justice! Why do we even have jails in the states if we can use them to fill addicted people, but we can not use prisons to hold those responsible for the horrible crimes that were done here? I feel that our new president has endangered not only our CIA agents worldwide , but also has put our men and women in our countrys military, in serious danger of future tortures due to retaliation. We, obviously, condoned it! If we did not, then we would have procecuted anyone involved for the crimes that were done during war time. (as the rest of the world needs to abide with). We were to be the ones setting the "good example". What kind of an message are we sending here? We still hunt people for thier part in the Nazi war crimes, yet we wish to forget what we have just recently done! I thought that the victims have the right to justice?? Are there any rights left anymore? We executed Sadam for war crimes, then turned around and did this to its people? The former admin. should all be charged here for war crimes and prosecuted to the "full" on this one! We do look quite terrible to the world today and should hold our heads in shame. He is making us out to be fools worldwide! They talk behind his back, so I have heard on the news! Oh, thank you Obama, for making your own people look like "total fools" and terrorists throughout the world! We seem to be no better off now, thanks to you! I was a demorcrat! Can I cjhange my vote? We once again are in need of "change". Someone who protects us, is out for our "best" interests daily, and trys to find truth and justice FOR ALL! NO EXCEPTIONS! Now I fear for our people, and for our country. God, help us all. We should hold our heads in total shame today. We have bent the laws to protect those who commited a serious crime to humanity ...right here is the USA! Shame on you!

    April 18, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  8. J.E.

    Jonboy,

    regarding your statement:

    "I also disagree with Obama’s position on non-prosecution or even investigation of past criminal acts. Just because they were done in the past by high-ranking people and they may have been done with good intentions does not make it any less illegal. I can go rob my million-dollar neighbor and give the money to the poor. That’s with good intentions, but it won’t stop me from going to jail."

    You should agree with him on this, and all should. What those people did with torture maybe now considered illegal, but it appears that they were legal at the time the acts were committed.

    Why should you care you ask? Well, lets say Obama legalizes Marijuana use. You partake and smoke some. Then the next president comes in and changes the law to make it illegal again. By your reasoning it would be ok to prosecute you and anyone else who smoked Marijuana.

    So be careful about what you might wish for. I'm just happy Obama is the president and not you.

    April 17, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  9. kodewayne

    I'm sick of people mentioning Iraqi's cutting off Americans heads as a reason to rationalize torture. Most of this is stemming from the tragic event with the American contractor in Iraq. FYI.....he was a contractor working for the U.S. government, in an invaded land. He was made a public demonstration in a futile effort to scare us into submission. The same kind of scare tactics we employ when we show infrared images of Apache helicopters disintegrating live Iraqi's. Or airplane perspective images when we drop hellfire missles. Or when we show bloated Iraqi bodies rotting in the streets after their "liberation" etc. etc. Your trying to connect subjects which have significant differences in their context.

    And again, none of you realize that not all of these detainees are terrorists. Some had the unfortunate accident of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. That's why we have already release over a dozen, when the government themselves said that they were no longer suspects. Now what you need to worry about is if these dozen are NOW terrorists because of our interrogation practices.

    Again, poop out your mouth.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  10. jonboy

    DUG, real insightful comment you have there. I'm not even sure what to think – oh that's right, I'm in America and am thus not supposed to think for myself – I'm supposed to let the government do that for me or let the MSM fill my head with hallucinations.

    April 17, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  11. DUG

    Jonboy,

    What are you hallucinating on today????

    April 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  12. jonboy

    Joe in Memphis,

    I happen to agree with part of your assertion: "If you don't intend on prosecuting those involved, then..." I totally agree that Obama should prosecute them.

    As to your comment about everybody else being complete morons, I suggest you look in the mirror while saying that, because you apparently cannot understand simple concepts. No one is disagreeing that decapitation, etc., is morally reprehensible. What people are saying, amongst other things, is that if you try to fight people who are morally reprehensible by being morally reprehensible yourself, you're fighting a losing battle and causing more problems than you're solving. Nobody, including the rest of the world likes nor trusts a bunch of hypocrites, which is how the US is perceived and how we should be perceived until we acknowledge our mistakes and make some attempt at amends.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  13. Joe in Memphis

    You people are complete morons... how many of you watched the decapitation of a young American on video? How could you possibly call waterboarding, insects in a cell, or walling torture. Torture is having someone beat the crap out of you, and then cut your head off on television for the world to watch. Wake up! That imaginary world you live in isnt real.

    As for release of documentation about American interrogation techniques (not torture), why?? If you don't intend on prosecuting those involved, then the only reason for disclosure is to discredit the administration before you. Obama's action planely speak for themselves.

    For all of his posturing, Obama will find himself forced to make the tough decisions with regard to terrorists. I honestly think he will make the right choices, however, to the dissappointment of the folks that voted for him.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  14. jonboy

    RT, in response to you:

    I agree that Congress is complicit in a variety of things. a) Chosing not to impeach the President for a variety of clear cut violations of the law including high treason. b) Chosing to accept Bush's hand-picked team of so called "investgators" for 9/11. c) Allowing no or little regulation on CDO's and the like. And I can go on.

    Regarding John W's statement about some of these folks being "good Christian's too". I believe he was referring to the fact that although many people profess faith in Christ and in his teachings, many of those same people conveniently forget about many of those same teachings. This was certainly not meant to demean anybody's legitimate faith. What it was meant to do was to call out hypocrisy where it exists – nothing wrong with that.

    Regarding terrorist really having a choice... The problem with your argument there is that there is not guarantee that any of the people in Guantanamo were actually terrorists. None were allowed a defense no given due process to prove their innocence.

    And what has tobacco taxes got to do with the issue of torture. I agree that this and all other taxes are a big problem and that our government is out of control on spending, but this is not the right forum for that discussion.

    With regard to what Amy wrote and your response: begin ethical, decent, honest, and intelligent is completely orthogonal to dealing with "bad" people. Our lack of apparent success (or even action in some cases) on Somalia, North Korea and Iran really has nothing to do with being honest, decent, and ethical. I will admit that it may reflect poorly on our governments intelligence, but so many other things do that already.

    April 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  15. jonboy

    Ryan, your hypothetical story sounds good on the surface – but it's just that – hypothetical. How 'bout this...

    The suspected terrorist who you so intently tried to extract information from gave you four false leads and you sent your team of intelligence professionals chasing after these false leads. It turns out that the suspected terrorist wasn't the real mastermind anyway and didn't really know the whole story. All the while, the real terror mastermind finished setting up the bomb. It turns out that there were several other leads – one of which would have led you the bomb, but you were so busy following up on the false leads, you didn't have enough resources to follow the good lead. So guess what, all those families are dead anyway. And on top of that, while you were so busy tracking these false leads, one of the terrorists broke into your home and slaughtered your family as well.

    The point is, you can make up all kinds of hypothetical stories till your blue in the face. They may sound nice, but none of them will change the FACTS. Torture doesn't work and is illegal. Stop being STUPID

    April 17, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  16. hrccpca

    one more thing: everyone read the documents. There is no torturing whatsover in the documents.

    April 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  17. jonboy

    Dan,

    I agree. I am fully supportive of Obama's transparency on this issue, but cannot ignore the non-transparency on other issues that you mentioned (bailout, stimulus, etc).

    I also disagree with Obama's position on non-prosecution or even investigation of past criminal acts. Just because they were done in the past by high-ranking people and they may have been done with good intentions does not make it any less illegal. I can go rob my million-dollar neighbor and give the money to the poor. That's with good intentions, but it won't stop me from going to jail.

    April 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  18. hrccpca

    Angi,
    did you read the document? There is no torturing authorized anywhere in the document. No one is brought to the point of death. It's a long read but, at least you don't make silly comments.

    April 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  19. jonboy

    I also keep hearing people say that this was all just for political gain and this only serves to strengthen the enemy by exposing our methods and making intelligence officials risk-averse.

    First off, it may be that there are political points scored as a result of releasing these memos, but that is besides the point. We the people of America should know the truth about what is being done in our name.

    Secondly, explain how exposing that we use or have used ineffective torture methods provides any significant benefit to a would-be terrorist.

    Thirdly, please explain how expecting our intelligence officials to act professionally, obey the law and understand when they are being given unethical orders is equivalent to making intelligence officials risk-averse. And even if it did, how is being risk-averse equivalent to making us un-safe?

    April 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  20. RT in KC

    In Response to several of you:

    Da Professor wrote: America needs to know what a bunch of fools we had in office for the past 8-years under good ole Georgy and Dicky..

    I assume you are also referring to our current president and most of the current congress when you refer to the "bunch of fools we had in office for the past 8-years". I seem to recall the Democrats having control of Congress for part of that time. I also recall that it wasn't just the Republicans who voted for the bailouts and the causes of much of our current financial mess. So much easier to blame the past administration then owning up to your parties own lack of leadership.

    John W wrote: "either we have and keep the moral high ground or we revert to a society of savages and then we should no longer exist… I’ll bet that you folks are all good Christian’s too…"

    I guess the moral high ground allows one to demean others' faith.

    Airbourn Hippie wrote: These so called “terrorists combatants” didn’t have a choice.

    These terrorists did have a choice. They decided to pick up arms and attack our nation and it's interests. They made a bad choice and are paying a small and uncomfortable price.

    Ron wrote: "apparently “Johnny DC” and others didn’t get the memo that President Obama told the American people to expect more transparent government."

    The Messiah also told us that he wouldn't raise taxes on people making less than 250K. As an occasional tobacco user, I am waiting on my government check to make up the difference between my current salary and 250K now that the taxes I pay on tobacco have risen over 300% to pay for health care for other peoples kids.

    Amy wrote: "When will people realize that it doesn’t make America weak to be respectful, decent, honest, intelligent, and ethical? It strengthens our global position to respect other people’s cultures and to NOT act hypocritcally and out of fear." AND "Stop being a typical ignorant American and accept the fact that it is in everyone’s best interest and will save a lot more lives in the long run if we have a at least a semi-favorable image to the eyes of the rest of the world."

    I guess we should be more intelligent like the Europeans that allowed genocide to occur in their own backyards (the former Yugoslavia) while they tried to talk to the butchers involved instead of using the one thing people like these understand – force. What are all these intelligent nations doing about the chaos in Somalia, the building of nuculear weapons in Iran and North Korea, the oppression in Tibet and all of the other ongoing bad things that bad people do.

    April 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  21. Brad in Cali

    that was a crazy scene in 24 when they blew up the trade center, good thing it was only fiction......WAKE UP!

    April 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  22. Mike in CA

    I think that these techniques were and are completely necessary. I'm sorry that some of the prisoners got slapped around a little bit, but the fact of the matter is that as soon as you turn your back on one of these bozos, you better believe that he or she would kill you. I think Obama and his "click" are fools for putting this out there like that.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  23. jonboy

    I keep hearing comments like:

    1. Well if you think that they haven't done exactly the same thing to us in the past, you're a fool....

    2. If it saves lives, then so be it...

    3. What else can we do, use harsh words?

    Don't you guys get it? Are you THAT stupid?

    1. Doing it, because they did it is neither a sound logical argument nor a sound ethical argument.

    2. It is widely known in intelligence and law-enforcement circles that it does NOT save lives. So this argument is patently ridiculous.

    3. There are plenty of plenty of non-torture techniques that are as or more effective than torture.

    All in all, there are many good arguments against these practices and no good arguments for them.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  24. Tom in Tampa

    Anything we do to extract information could be called torture by somebody. I guess we will threaten to send them to bed without desert or take away their pillow. I can hear it now "listen you poo poo head, tell us where the bomb is or you get NO PUDDING!"

    April 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  25. Ryan in US

    I would say ignorance is bliss except so many bloggers here appear to be anything but happy.

    Flash poll: How many people in here have actually read the treaty from the Geneva Convention? Considering the answer is very close to zero, it's amazing how many people are positive that it was violated.

    Comparing any of this to Nazi war crimes is just as stupid. Jews didn't attack Nazi cities with airplanes, Jews weren't supporting the destruction of Germany, and Jews weren't plotting acts with the express purpose of killing civilians and causing terror. I don't recall mass murder was on the memo list either. So to make the comparison is disgusting and only serves to diminish the horrendous acts perpetuated by the Nazi party.

    It's also amazing how many people are completely misguided about these so called torture techniques adversely affecting how other countries treat our soldiers. Tell me then, what country's soldiers are we fighting? What nation is capturing our soldiers as POWs? I'd like to know so I can be nervous when that country retaliates against our soldiers because we harmed theirs.

    Oh wait, we are fighting terrorists who by their very actions are in complete defiance of the same Geneva Convention you so gleefully condemn your own countrymen with.

    Does anyone actually think that the same terrorist groups instigating violence, throwing acid on girls, beheading journalists and blowing themselves up in crowds of civilians, really care about this when it comes to the treatment of our citizens or soldiers?

    Although I think true ignorance on this subject is the so called fact that coerced interrogation never works. It does. If Obama was really interested in sheer openness rather than politics he would have detailed what information was gathered from these techniques and how many terrorist actions were stopped as a result. After all we're already sharing state secrets, so why stop at the memos?

    Does coerced interrogation work on everyone? No, it doesn't. But just because something isn't 100 percent effective doesn't mean it should be never be an option. If that's the case, don't bother wearing your seat belt the rest of your life.

    I think all those who think it would be a good exercise for Americans who supported these methods to have to endure them, they should then have to endure the murder of their children and family. The good exercise would be a group of terrorists plotting to kill 50,000 Americans at a major public event. One of the plotters is captured a few days in advance, but even after nicely asking him questions, he has the temerity to actually refuse giving up any information. Three days later your entire family dies in a horrific explosion.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  26. Beth

    1) If it's not torture why was it done? For entertainment? No, it was done because it IS torture and they were trying to get information. And it was WRONG.

    2) These things were done to SUSPECTED terrorists, and so many of you say that was a good thing. So, why don't the police do the same to suspects in custody, some of whom have murdered man, woman and children? Oh wait, they used to do that but now it's ILLEGAL.

    3) Many of you have said that the Geneva Convention only applies to captured enemy military personnel. The notion that civilians in custody can be treated in any fashion because they are civilians may well be the scariest thing I read here. That means it can happen to any of us if we are suspected to be terrorists. Welcome to 1984.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  27. Dan

    Amy said

    "This is just great. I love how people jumped at and practically foamed at the mouth for any opportunity to slam Obama for not being as transparent as he promised (The Blagojevich scandal). Then when he practices transparency, and releases documents that expose the lies, TORTURE (yes, those techniques are torture), and other ethics violations of the former administration, Obama is doing this only to score legal points? I know nobody is used to politicians following through with promises, but that is precisely what Obama was trying to do. Though I’m sure if he had sat on this, some moron Republican would be calling him out further down line for lying to the American people. To Andy: This isn’t an episode of 24, it’s real life. Using these methods to try to get some terrorist to rat out his buddies sounds simple, but it rarely works that way. Releasing these memos is not Obama giving away national secrets to our enemies. We don’t use these methods anymore- and I am proud of that. If we are going to keep giving up our principles and morals to feel safer- than we lose all credibility as a world power and don’t deserve safety. We become cowards…like the terrorists"

    Amy dear, we certainly do need transparency in our government, but not just when it applies to the Bush adminstration. (And before any of you bleeding hart liberals start with the bashing i'm a moderate Republican who DID vote for and STILL support Obama)

    But you can still question someone you support and to this point he has promised but delivered on his transparency claim. Where is the transparency on the Stimulus package, the homeowner rescue or billions in bailouts? Thats what I would like to see....how is my tax money being spent.

    They limited compensation for execs at firms that took the tarp monies but according to an article a while back on CNN there are ways for them to get around the restrictions!!! Where is the transparency on that fact???

    April 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  28. Kevin in BR

    You know, I'm seeing the whole transparency term being thrown around but I want the current administration to be transparent to some extent, not the former. "Exposing" the Bush Administration documents doesn't do anything.We already knew of water-boarding and other methods before these documents came out so whats the big deal. It's petty.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  29. southerndrawal72

    So, what do we use now? Harsh words.

    April 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  30. John W. Racine, WI

    I really cringe at so many of my fellow Americans thinking that torture is not only OK but DESERVED!

    I suspect you were born under some rock or are a fine product of some genetic experiment, as you are certainly devoid of any real American Socialization.

    Their is no justification for this kind of treatment of POW's or Enemy Combatants... either we have and keep the moral high ground or we revert to a society of savages and then we should no longer exist... I’ll bet that you folks are all good Christian's too…

    April 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  31. jonboy

    As I read all these comments, I find it unbelievable that so many people can condone and support either the actions of the Bush administration or keeping of such actions secret.

    1. Torture simple doesn't work and cannot be relied upon. People bring up the Nuke in NY City scenario. If that were to happen, god forbid, then NY City is SOL, because torture is not going to reveal either the location or the perpetrators in time to stop it from blowing up.

    2. Torture is defined and outlawed in the Geneva conventions that were signed and ratified. We have a duty, spelled out in the constitution to uphold treaties that we have signed. If you don't like the treaty, there are well known avenues for trying to change it or pulling out. Simply ignoring the treaty is breaking the law. This is no different than if/when you ignore the speed-limit. You don't like the speed limit laws – well, you can argue that with the judge, but it won't stop you from having to pay.

    3. Knowing that the US tortured in the past and what it's methods are provides no significant benefit to would-be terrorists.

    4. Even if the techniques really are not "torture" (which I'm not arguing), that does nothing to diminish the negative perception in the eyes of the rest of the world. Losing the moral high ground in our future dealings with the world is a much bigger "hand-cuff" than not being able to engage in criminal activities that have been shown to be ineffective. Coming clean on our mistakes which the rest of the world already knows about can only improve our moral position.

    5. Finally, I have to say that all these shrill cries from people justifying these criminal actions with 9/11 is purely ridiculous. The recent news that nano-thermite explosives were found in the dust from the WTC towers (peer reviewed and independently corroborated by multiple labs) only serves to highlight that we really don't know what truly happened that day. (see ae911truth.net for more info on why many architects and engineers believe that the official cover story is a lie).

    April 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  32. Bubba

    Dustin, 24 is a tv show for extreme right-wingers. It's a smug fantasy like the West Wing was for extreme left-wingers. Please learn to distrust anyone who tells you you are always correct and that your opinions are all true – how often does that work out in the real world?

    April 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  33. barbara

    Obama: (appeasing those that he thinks matter)

    "Okay boys. Next time we capture a terrorist I mean well you know what I mean. I want you t have him sign a piece of paper that states that he doesnt know anything and that it is the truth. Do this after you ask him nicely if he has information regarding any future attacks on the United States of Amercia. If he says no then do not ask again,...even if you think hes lying. Just have him sign the paper. After that release him to wherever he came from. Thanks boys"

    Boys: "But Sir if the prisoner has information that could save countless lives in the USA shouldnt we at least try to gather information"?

    Obama: "Absolutely not. Let me make myself clear. They have just as much of a right to remain silent as you do. If it becomes known after an attack on this nation that he had information them we can go to the American people and say that there was nothing we could do because he signed the paper which stated that he did not have any onformation. That will be enough to satisfy the idiots I mean the people".

    April 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  34. Ben

    Some people in our country seem to feel that:
    1.) If a person looks like me, and talks like me – he is my friend.
    2.) If a person does not look like me or does not talk like me, he is my enemy.
    3.) Americans are superior to all other cultures. And God meant for it to be this way.
    4.) Arrogance, Intolerance, and Ignorance are the only real ways to show "Strength".

    It's a stronger person that tries to understand another person, than to be weak and simply discount them. Belief 3 is complete BS. And unfortunately, the deepest, darkest levels of betrayal are visited upon those that believe items 1 and 2 above.

    Grow up . . . pull your head out of the sand . . . . and look around!

    April 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  35. Ken

    I don't care about the methods of torture that were used. If you think for one minute that these methods were not used in previous wars or conflicts, you are a fool. Some things are better off unknown to the public. I'm disappointed that the documents were released and I'm sure the democrats only did it to make themselves look better. These prisoners are not your run-of-the-mill bad guys. They would love nothing better than to have an opportunity to cut off your head with a dull butter knife. Yes, they may be brainwashed but no positive experience is going to change their views on Americans. I don't like that the US is involved with torture but if it saves American lives, so be it. It's time we stopped being the nice guy and start looking out for our best interests. Bush may not have been the best President we've had, but I give him credit for his hard stance against terrorism and protecting Americans. You have to admit, he did have a lot more to deal with than previous presidents. Clinton obviously had a lot of free time...

    April 17, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  36. jw in ffx

    It might be useful to point out that the US HAS prosecuted solders in other countries for war crimes, primarily because they followed tactics allowed in this memo (specifically water boarding). We have even prosecuted people in our own law enforcement system for water boarding. (Texas 1983) Even US solders have been convicted for doing water boarding. Also note that the ICRC, the people who keep and check on the Geneva conventions, concluded that the tactics used at the CIA detention centers were torture. (BTW, the Geneva convention does have provisions for other people besides uniformed solders – "An unlawful combatant who is not a national of a neutral State, and who is not a national of a co-belligerent State, retains rights and privileges under the Fourth Geneva Convention so that he must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial." For those that disagree – it is probably worth reading up on this before you argue.)

    The types of things we are did, including stress positions for many days on end are very similar to those used by Pinochet in Chile. Here are two of the charges that were ultimately brought against Pinochet.

    "...by interfering with her breathing, threatening her with instant death and keeping her in conditions of acute physical discomfort."
    "... by keeping her in conditions of acute physical discomfort."

    Sadly, they almost exactly describe what the US did routinely.

    We should not equate us to Pinochet, Hitler, or other repressive regimes. That goodness we didn't go anywhere close to that level they were at their worst. However, once you start going down that road, you lose perspective and more importantly, you lose the moral high ground that we historically and rightfully deserve.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  37. Chris

    People who want to kill you, and would if they had the opportunity, are treated poorly when caught. Shame.

    I wonder how different opinions would be had you lost a loved one on 9-11.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  38. joe montana

    If water-boarding is an acceptable form of intelligence gathering and a deterrent against international crime, then can we use it on Bernie Madoff to find where he hide the missing loot? To bad, we missed out on water-boarding Scooter.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  39. barbara

    This is very very scary. Obama will continue to do whatever he has to do to continue to perpetuate the hate for the republican party. he will risk MY safety, and yours, in an attempt to keep the dems in control forever and ever amen. What does this say about a man that would expose our state secrets? That he is only looking out for himeself, his supporters and no one else. Does he even consider what the rest of the world thinks about us in regards to keeping "trade secrets" safe? Whicj allie will now entrust us to keep anything safe? He has hurt this country and has lost faith with out friends abroad. Cheny was right,...he is making decisions that are making us less safe.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  40. Da Professor

    Golly gee ... imagine that ... the Republicans are against releasing the truth to the American Public. I wonder why? Could it be that only lies and hypocrisy should be "released" by and about Republican miss-deeds? America needs to know what a bunch of fools we had in office for the past 8-years under good ole Georgy and Dicky..

    April 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  41. Johnny DC

    For all of you "the public has a righ to knowt" people – you are the same people who are so sold into the first amendment that you are willing to exchange the freedom of information and the media for American lives. When the media turns people like the Virginia Tech murderer into a celebrity by playing his tape over and over, does that not cost lives in the form of the next copycat killer? Does the public "have the right to know" what was in that sick man's mind? In that public population, there are crazy people who see that material, learn how and why to reenact it, and dream to repeat it. Damage done.

    If you can't at least admit that there are times for actions and information to be kept from the public, in the name of our safety and security, then you are either lying to yourself or are grossly moronic.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  42. Ron

    apparently "Johnny DC" and others didn't get the memo that President Obama told the American people to expect more transparent government. which means, unlike Bush 43 who sealed his daddies presidential records his first days in office, this is the sort of change some of us voted for back in November.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  43. airborne hippie

    To Scott, the Marine/Naval Officer:

    I am a veteran of three deployments to Irag with the 82nd Airborne Division. I applaud you for serving your country and even more so for attending SERE training. However, last time I checked you volunteered for SERE School, you were not forced to go. These so called "terrorists combatants" didn't have a choice. Just because you volunteered to be tortured doesn't make it right!!!! TORTURE IS TORTURE.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  44. JP

    The agenda of most of the terrorists is to kill as many, and get to heaven as quickly as possible. Brutal acts such like beheading etc are a way of life for them.

    I’m surprised many are in support of sitting down with their lawyers to extract critical information from them.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  45. Raul

    They behead us...not even with a swift blow from an axe or guillotine...with a knife. They behead us, that is all...

    April 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  46. Jon

    I think what people fail to realize is that war is a dirty thing. We are fighting an enemy that has no respect for human life, proven by their willingness to commit suicide. Our American Soldiers are over there fighting against barbarians in a place where the enemy can't be distinguished from those they are trying to protect.

    Do all of you really think they don't do the same to our soldiers, or even us as civilians given the chance? They do...they strip, torture and then hang and mutilate our men when they can get their hands on them. They hide IED's in dead dogs on the side of the road.

    All of this politically correct BS is the reason why we can't win in Iraq or Afghanistan. We need to let the warriors fight the war and leave the lawyers out of it.

    We will be much less safe as a result of this. I say we let the warriors and intelligence community do whatever they need to do keep us safe. I'm sure when we get attacked again, all of the Libs will change their tune and want Obama to take action. The problem is he won't be able to because it is "illegal".

    April 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  47. Phil Towers

    Even to this moment those same people who lied and tortured are more concerned about what may happen to the "career professionals" who DID torture than what has happened to our nation and its values. It is a pathetic creepy dance to see them trying to pick their words in describing what they permitted. If they do not think it is torture- let's try it on them!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  48. jimmyc

    So a man who has planted a nuclear weapon in New York is found after it is planted.

    What each of you is saying is that the means to get that information, that does not kill or cause long term harm, is prohibitied under any circumstances and that making Manhattan Island a barren empty wasteland for decades or longer and the death of 10s of thousands by radiation poisoning and cancer are an acceptable price to pay??

    We are not talking about women and children but people who strap bombs onto children, who kill women in the street who do not dress appropriately, who kill gays, who walk onto buses of innocent women and children and blow them all to kingdom come – that is who your defending.

    Don't give me constitutional arguments since this administration is moving quickly to remove the constitution as the bedrock of our legal system. Tell me why the welfare of monsters is more important than the welfare of your children, neighbors and friends?

    Future interrogations will be totally ineffective because agents will not want to be prosecuted by the type of kangaroo court you can read in these comments.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  49. Tim Morroni

    Torture is wrong because the ends never justify the means, but then we live in a country where we no longer have a known, just or predictable form of laws that are equitaly applied to all. Yet, our new government is taking advantage of the new form of non-violent government sponsored anarchy to selectively determine who can be fired, judged, enslaved, prosper, pay taxes or anything else they decide is right or wrong each day. When will all of us, liberal and conservative alike wake up and work together. Bush was wrong to oppress our enemies with torture, but Obama will be wrong too when he resorts to using the means of catastrophic climate change lies or the Department of Homeland Security to define certain people as threats. These methods he is employing will oppress the liberties of US citizens with the tyranny of taxes and the torture of imprisonment for believing in our constitution. Change is comming and it will be called Tyranny. You can ignore it at your peril, but you won't care about race, creed, color, religion or party affiliation anymore once the combined corrupt methods of Bush, the republicans, Obama and the democrats lead to the replacement of our Bill or Rights with the new international law that will be brought to us in the name of "fairness".

    April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  50. big papa

    The hand wringing and equivocating by the Bush-Cheney apologists is DISGUSTING!
    It clearly shows how inhuman and unAmerican the Bushites are.
    With each passing day they demonstrate how dangerous CONSERVATIVES really are. The rest of us sane Americans had better be prepared to deal with these psychotic TEA BAGGING racists, they're buying weapons and we'd better stock up too. Talk of secession and revolution by sitting elected Republicans and their right wing media stooges means America will be at war with itself. BE PREPARED!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  51. RT in KC

    In Response to Shaun

    You wrote: "The Khmer Rouge and the Nazi’s both used sleep deprivation, scare tactics, isolation, humiliation, water boarding, “hot boxes” with and without insects/animals and pressure positions along with more violent methods of torture."

    You so casually throw in the "along with more violent methods of torture". These more violent methods of torture is what set these animals apart. This follows my original point that the left casually tries to create the tie between the former adminstration and these glaring examples of the worst of humanity.

    You also wrote: "There are restrictions on solitary confinement in regards to both State and Federal prisoners. Police officers across the country will attest to the restrictions placed on them in regards to suspect interrogation. In many cases police brutality related cases have caused a subsequent backlash further restricting officers in future cases. Military training falls under a different category, but again there are restrictions as to what can and can not be done with Military recruits. There are exceptions (SERE School comes to mind as does BUDS, CIA and NSA recruitment) but in all cases a waiver is signed and the individual under duress is there voluntarily."

    You make my point. These techniques are used regularly with restrictions. The memos that have been released set the restrictions on how these tactics can be used in interrogation.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  52. Robert in NY

    Obama took an oath to uphold our Constitution. The Bush Administration broke the law and Obama should go after them. Why release memos if you are not going to prosecute.

    And Ms. Townsend should be waterboard herself.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  53. Jay

    So all the right wingers here would be fine with the US government torturing suspected terrorists even if they were say blonde, blue-eyed, christian, right wingers like timothy mcveigh and his ilk? Even if it turns out half of them were actually not guilty of any crimes in the end? Yeah I think not.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  54. Randy

    " ... then why did you release them? What was the purpose? Because we’ve won legal cases in the courts to protect those memos up to now from public disclosure."

    Just because you won legal cases does not make it right.
    The purpose? Legal cases.
    Called international obligations. All very legal.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  55. JS007

    When Nazi guards used the "I followed orders" defense they were imprisoned or executed regardless. How is this different? Obama has screwed this up enough by not prosecuting the torturers, but now the Bushies who wrote the memos are indignant that they were released? The despots who orchestrated this (Bush, Cheney) and the hacks who wrote these memos should not only be shamed, but disbarred and tried for war crimes too.

    Without prosecutions America will forever wear the stain of state-sanctioned torture (just like Germany still does), and give a dangerous precedent to future would-be despots. Every American should be terrified of a government that tortures. Today it is the SUSPECTED terrorists, tomorrow it could be anyone who disagrees with the government. How is that different from Stalin's Russia? Canada had to pay $10M to a Canadian citizen (Maher Arar) FALSELY accused by America of being a terrorist and sent to Syria for torture. He spent a year being tortured for NO REASON.

    Lastly, torture has been proven ineffective anyway. If you know that someone knows something you need, then you must also know it. Otherwise, how do you know that the tortured person is telling the truth? How do you know that you are not torturing an innocent person due to your bad suppositions? As a citizen, when you okay your government to torture ANYONE you also okay them to torture you if they choose to do so. After all, these people were never given a fair trial, so who decides if they are guilty? The government torturers, that's who. History of torture is a sad one, where governments morally corrupt enough to use torture were also morally corrupt to use it for the wrong reasons (e.g. Stalin's Russia, Nazi-Germany, Chile, Cambodia, Iraq, North Korea, Bush's America). There is no example of an enlightened, good government using torture. In fact, torture is a tell-tale sign of a bad, criminal government.

    "Those willing to sacrifice liberty for a little security deserve neither." – Benjamin Franklin

    April 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  56. Michael F

    Francis Townsend is a monster. Civilized countries don't torture and civilized people don't make excuses for it. Let us hope that the release of these memos "handcuffs future administrations" from ever again and degrading and damaging the United
    States with such barbaric war crimes.

    My greatest fear is that the monster Townsend is wrong, and that Obama's shocking refusal to investigate and prosecute US war crimes will only guarantee their recurrence. Our best hope for justice now rests in Europe, where universal jurisdiction laws makes it possible for suspected American war criminals to be be tried there.
    That America lacks the integrity and decency to enforce its own laws against torture only adds to our collective shame. It is a measure of our collective debasement that the America must look to foreigners to protect our constitution from ourselves.

    Francis Townsend may be content to be a "good German" but my standards for myself and my country are rather higher.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  57. Jon

    When we are attacked by terrorists again, there is no doubt that we will blame Obama and democrats. If we are attacked under the watch of Obama administration and democrat congress, then next Republication Administration wil bring these people to trials and convicts them and put them in jails. Never say never.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  58. Dan

    To Kevin in Denver who said

    "Mike buddy….. THE ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL WORLD respects Obama. No one with ANY brains thinks for 1 second he is weak"

    Dude, take off the Rose colored glasses!!!! While I agree many respect him and are hopeful of what Obama is trying to do, its 100% false to say the the ENTIRE world respects him.

    If you think the current leaders of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Lybia, etc...will truly respect Obama or any American President then I think you are sadly mistaken

    April 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  59. Not right or left - Forward!

    If there were medical personnel involved, as asserted, they ought to be deprived of their credentials – this sort of thing is contrary to medical ethics in the very least. Those who administer lethal injections are behaving with more medical ethics than anyone involved in this barbaraous treatment. Two hundred wrongs do not make a right. Period.

    As to the impact the release of these memos have on the careers and personal lives of those involved – GOOD! They voluntarily involved themselves. They had the choice to decline involvement – and even if that meant they lost their jobs – the Geneva Convention and the trials after WW-II set the precedent that following orders does NOT relieve you of responsibility for agregious violations of international law such as this.

    Those who accuse Obama of being unpatriotic are ignorant of what it means to be a patriot. He is BEING patiotic by releasing this information – by exposing the wrongs and trying to make people realize that not everyone in this country is as sadistic as the extremists of the Bush Regime in their attempts to force their will on the country and the world. SHAME ON BUSH AND CHENEY for being such unpatriotic offspring born out of wedlock.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  60. atypical

    hiding truth, hiding injustice is not acceptable.
    we are entering an era of transparency and expansion, and not just from a government level. we can choose to embrace it or continue to wallow in our ignorance but the era is underway and cannot be stopped. it is a part of the evolution of humanity.
    Nunti Sunya: end of our own imprisoment.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  61. LB

    While I don't condone torture....it must be realized that the United States has NEVER treated any POW the way our soldiers were and have been treated while being held captive by other nations throughout history to present day. The extremists in the Middle East won't even leave the body of a dead U.S. soldier alone - they must detroy it as well. We must be humane - but let's face it War is War and it isn't pretty. When people are raised from birth to hate us, to want to destroy us and to want to kill us then we must be prepared to protect ourselves and others. I fear the U.S. will become too soft and too open to attacks by the same extremist mentality that has attacked us in the past. May God protect us against the animals of this world when we have a PETA-mentality administration in the WH.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  62. federalist

    Ignorance of the law is not an accepted defense for violating the law (though it may affect sentencing). The senior members of the previous administration including the president violated the highest laws of our land, namely several treaties baring the use of torture cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners (recall that under the constitution's Supremacy Clause treaties occupy a special place in the hierarchy of legal code that supersedes ordinary state and federal statutes). Moreover, they denied the same prisoners the right to challenge their detention as well as the right to challenge or even know the facts the government and its agents used to support the legal conclusion necessitating their detention (A basic human legal right dating back to the Magna-Carta and guaranteed under the constitution). These actions collectively and often individually constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity under federal law, several treaties, the uniform code of military justice, and international law. The fact that the administration disputes the applicability of the relevant statutes and hired incompetent lawyers to purposefully obfuscate the interpretation of the laws and precedent does not absolve all participants (executive officials, legal teams, and torturers) of their culpability. In fact instead of providing legal cover to the actions of the administration these legal opinions only serve to make their authors accomplices and co-conspirators in the ensuing unlawful activities (the only defense available to the lawyers is malpractice through negligence since only people who consider themselves experts in the prevailing mainstream law in which clear precedent exists should offer counsel especially in such grave matters). Moreover, the administration's request for these opinions on such specific matters constitutes evidence of intent since it represents a tacit acknowledgment by the administration and its state sanctioned actors of the fact that they knew a reasonable person would suspect they were in morally or legally dubious territory and hence legal jeopardy. A mafia boss can't avoid a RICO prosecution for the actions of his lieutenants because he decides to misinterpret the RICO act with the intent of continuing activities he suspects may be illegal. If the same boss hires a lawyer to certify his actions as legal based on flawed reasoning attributable to either ignorance or faulty logic/assumptions, then the attorney at best committed malpractice due to professional negligence and could be disbarred or possibly indicted under RICO as a co-conspirator. In most criminal activities with regard to the perpetrator’s mind ignorance is irrelevant, and willful ignorance = defacto intent. Law enforcement can not be divorced from the expectation the state places upon each citizen to develop a moral compass that is represented in approximation by our laws and constitution (the penalty for failure being imprisonment by the state after conviction by a jury of one’s peers). It is thus a state mandated responsibility for each citizen as part of the social contract to cultivate a specific morality that is at a minimum consistent with the national legal framework (this is the prerequisite of order and personal freedom). Hence, failure to conform to social-norms for any reason is not considered a legitimate defense (espically in cases of assault, murder, rape, molestation, and of course torture) even if you are the president.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  63. cody

    Those opposed to these tactics are often dismissed as weak. But I say instead we are strong. We are not willing to sacrifice our convictions or the identity of our country just for increased personal safety.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  64. Marcquel

    I live in Canada and not the US, however, I feel this is the epitome of what is wrong with North America society. We want to do whatever we want, however, when it comes to others we prefer they do what we say, not what they want. I can already see people typing "of course we do!". The problem with this line of thinking is that it is, a) a double standard, b)oxy-moronical. We do not wish for our good soldiers to be tortured, however, we wish to torture others? No where in the comments have I seen anyone deny that waterboarding is torture. I have seen many comments falsely justifying its use, "we don't kill when we torture, so its okay", "they killed so many of our's that it shouldn't matter if we torture them", "they deserve to be tortured for what they did" etc. NOT torturing people is one of the moral characteristics that make North America the haven it is for so many. It's what gives us moral authority to justify "pre-emptive" strikes. I do not wish to single out a sole political party, however, this oxy-moronical way of thinking rears its head in all sorts of ways. Certain people, usually the ones that would condone torture, have already condoned the limiting of personal freedoms by allowing the "patriot act" to be put in place. Unjustified detainment of "suspected" terrorist. Did anyone stop to ask what the standards would be for someone to be suspected of terrorism? Or is it a judgment call that we leave up to justice department derivative's? Wire taps without a warrant? A whole slew of personal privacy invasion and yet there are those that would defend these actions? "Well if you have nothing to hide, and your not a terrorist, then why would you care?" is what they have often said. These are the same people that would have their governors reject the stimulus money because it gives the "federal government" to much control in where the money is spent. Really people? I think your priorities are a little confused if you want less government involvement, but don't mind if they invade your privacy. Oxy-moronicness at its best!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  65. Patricia

    How many of you think about the 3000 people that lost their life on 911 was feeling ....The torture they felt from these terrorist .....How many of you have children that you have to tell them about these terrorist that killed their father or mother.when they wake up at night crying and wanting them....On 911 over 3000 thousand people lost thier life because of these men and they would have done more killing if they had not been stopped from doing so by Bush... I think the little torture that these men went through was nothing compared to what 3000 plus went through on 911...They are watching Obama and i really do hope he's got his eye on them because they will attack again ,

    April 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  66. Intelligence Veteran

    "There is only one thing that gets the CIA's attention," said one of my legal counsels during my own fight with the Agency. "Publicity not of their making nor of their choosing." The cloak of "national security" has long been abused and exploited to shield Agency wrongdoing from the public and from the courts.

    In my own instance, the then-director said he himself had been unaware of the mischief that was the full-time work of a special office in the Agency; and the Agency's IG himself told me at the time that he was "powerless" to take on that specific unit.

    The law does not inherently impede the performance of the intelligence mission. Violation of the law, the hallmark of Agency conduct under recent Republican presidents, undercuts and the mission and our values. Shame on the Agency, again alas. Decades beyond Church, Pike and Rockefeller, it has yet to clean up its act - while the roster of intelligence failures only grows.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  67. Show-me Skeptic

    Why is it we're not prosecuting the Bush gang of Nazi pin heads?

    April 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  68. LexJeff

    Kevin Denver Colorado, How's that Sarkozy respect for BO treating ya? The modern neo-socialist posterboy doesn't even think BO is anything more than a rube to be manipulated for the benefit of the EU.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  69. ivan

    It is certainly good for the country to come clean of past behavior that we don't believe in and it is right to make sure we won't do things deemed inappropriate behavior, and I applaud the Obama administration for that.. But, to feed the enemy information that they can use against us, and to scare our agents from conducting their assignments not knowing what the next administration will retroactively decide what was not right to do, and to feed unnecessary information to the often sensationalist media, is the stupidest policy and way to fight the war on terror or whatever the Obama administration euphemistically is calling it these days.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  70. Mike

    The true test of courage is whether someone has the courage of his or her convictions.

    I hope it's part of our humanity to have the conviction that to torture is wrong.

    The real courage lies in those who stand up and say NO! Even under difficult times such as the post-9/11 era. Anyone who used 9/11 to play out their sadistic desires on other people is, to my mind, a coward of his convictions.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  71. Gene in Philadelphia

    The right thing has been done. Everything you do in politics is either gain or loss.

    Republicans, get your party back together and stop complaining. This is not the end of the world. Kick out your racists and form a party based on rewarding those who work hard and don't squander their money a/k/a conservatists.

    I would love to be party to that party but you have mixed in religion and hatred. I don't even know why you cannot focus on morals, individuality or the future.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  72. Russell

    I find it amusing that the critics of releasing this information and stopping our torture policy say that the terrorists will add these techniques to their training agenda to try to defeat us. Actually, that's a great thing. When word gets out that al Qaida members will be tortured nearly to death during their training, that should slow down their recruiting dramatically. But, on the other side, most terrorists are recruited for SUICIDE missions, on the one hand to inflict maximum damage with their actions, and on the other, to prevent their being able to talk. And the terrorist leaders who have been captured have not given us credible information because they have an extremely narrow focus and also because they are true believers who will also die for their cause. And once any terrorist is found to have been captured, the others change places, tactics, and contacts so that any previously known information is already obsolete. Let's regain our own moral authority, and if you believe in God, believe also that He (or She) will make sure that the moral, upright, and righteous will be successful in the end.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  73. bob martin

    how can we deport ivan the terrible when we are doing the same thing? i feel [its in the army manual] [i was in the army] that these cia agents had the right to disobey orders to torture people if they thought that order to be wrong. why didn't they, because they felt they could get off by saying they we're just following orders. this is the same excuse used by the german nazi generals after wwii. the allied command still had them exicuted. this needs to be addresed, no one is above the law. everyone involved in this torture busines needs to be arrested and tried in a us court of law. this is the only way to stop this kind of inhumane behavior.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  74. Hadley V. Baxendale

    Typical Republican reasoning. If anything endangered Americn security, it was the adoption of waterboarding as policy and its actual use in the field. Releasing of these amaterish "legal memoranda" did nothing more than confirm suspicions. It is obvious that the lawyers involved told Bush and company what they wanted to hear and ignored Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1, "...a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice...[and]may refer to other considerations, such as moral...factors...." I guess the way to be appointed to the bench in the Bush years was to be a brown noser and a sycophant.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  75. Charles

    Yeah and trickle down economics works also!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  76. Jessica

    Political agenda? Uh HELLO YES! the whole point is AMERICA is supposed to be the STANDARD for fairness, and releasing these memo's clearly says that we werent, and we have failed even ourselves.

    I want transparency, not a President who fights to have his dealings kept secret. I want a govt that does not participate in torture – as I want our nation to lead by example.

    Hey, if republicans disagree...say so, but dont cry about having the TRUTH told.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
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