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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. Bob D.

    I am appaulled that anyone considers our country's for-fathers ignorant. They knew the effects of the use of torture and they agreed to outlaw it by signing the Gevieva convention. This helps our country to be considered on a higher moral footing. It serves as the guiding light for our own servicemen who may be captured in combat. The techniques approved by the Bush administration were, are, and should be considered illegal. Someone should be prosecuted. As for the release of the memo's being able to harm the national security of the United States...NONSENSE! I say release any and all such documents and allow the American citizens to decide for themselves. Honesty is and always was, the best policy. You need not make up new lies to cover your butt. Bring back public persecution and place our politicians first in line. Then we may see a better country and world to live in. If they can OK the use of torture perhaps we should OK its use upon public officials who miss-use their power to the detrement of our country.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  2. TC Narumanchi

    You can't choose to be the champions of truth and justice, only when you feel like it.

    [1] Some lawyer wrote a b/s paper justifying torture as long as the media could be conned it calling it extreme interrogation.

    [2] The Obama administration says that no one can be held accountable because there were legal opinions from paid stooges saying it was legal to torture anyone the govenrment thought was a threat.

    This issue was settled with the Nazi war trials. There is no legal justification for torture. Anyone who thinks there is is watching too much "24".

    I will be generous and assume that the current administartion is packed with cowards who are more concerned with staying in power and preserving their "legacy" than in anything that even remotely resembles the American Dream.

    And since the Supreme Court is run by two-faced fascists, we can forget about anything like Justice from that end of our system of checks and balances.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  3. tom in pa.

    If these techniques constitute torture, I'd rather be tortured than be on the front line being shot at. I'd rather be tortured than be blown up by a roadside bomb. I'd rather be tortured than be burned to death in a building hit by a plane. I'd rather be tortured than have my head cut off while I'm alive. I'd rather be tortured than be beaten physically just because I disagree with someone else's religion. I'd rather be tortured than have my sister murdered by my father and uncle just because she showed her face in public. -- War is not a gentleman's or gentlelady's game. Wimps can whine, but stop including me in your own personal death wish.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  4. John

    George Washington strictly forbade his soldiers from torture, saying that freedom fighters fighting for human rights should not do such things and up until George W Bush Americans have lived up to Washington's ideal. In World War 2, for example, both the Nazis and Tojo's soldiers tortured and it did not help them win the war. USA did not torture enemies in WW 2 because we were better then that. The fact that George W Bush's administration tortured is one of the most horrific examples of how the USA has wandered away from its ideals and why we are a nation in decline. Weak people with lack of morals and charector say it is OK to torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Oh, please. You have stated just about anything will hinder "terror war". Once upon a time, we were the 'good guys'. We held ourselves to a higher standard. With the advent of the previous administration, we lowered ourselves to the level of those we are trying to fight.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  6. DAVE

    Lets see, your choice if you are brave enough to make it.
    No matter what it takes, Get info from the man who has set up the the plot that will cause the death of your child or
    let your child be killed for religious reasons because you dont want to lower yourself to there level?
    You all talk the talk but not one of us would allow it to happen to our own child.
    These people would kill any of you given the chance, just because you dont belive and practice there way of thinking.
    Rememer while you are all above torturing these scum bags they are killing our children.
    Is cutting your achilles tendons so you cant escape torture?
    Draging your body for miles, is that torture. crushing your face till you are unidentifiable to your own family, is that torture.
    burning the body when there done, thats not torture?
    Ask Daniel Pearls wife about torture!!!!
    I would hope our leaders would take the steps needed to protect our children. Would like to think your priorities would be your fellow Americans. its sad to read the comments on these blogs.
    my Thanks to those who protect us.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  7. Ben

    For all the people who think they are ok with this – What if these things were done to american Soldiers? How would you feel then?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  8. Sean

    A lot of people posting here are writing about how the president should pursue prosecution of these people, the people who conducted the actual interviews. Do you really want that? These people (who have spent a career working a job specifically NECESSARY to keep you safe from these animals) weren't doing what they were "ordered" to do, they were doing what they thought was necessary to extract CRITICAL information from these people (and I hesitate to even call them humans) within the boundaries that they had been legally set forth in front of them.

    Now, I am only speaking for myself, but...if you put one of those thugs in front of me and there was a very strong indication that they had information that could help stop attacks or bring to justice those who killed our citizens; I would not hesitate for a second to use whatever means at my disposal to get the information out of them. These gutless vermin have no problem with sawing the heads off of our citizens on television, but you people blanch at the thought of them having to be uncomfortable and tired. They slapped them, they pushed them through false walls, they SIMULATED drowning. They didn't cut them, they didn't bleed them, they didn't beat them...they instilled fear; and they should have been afraid.

    The men and women of our intelligence services work to keep me safe, and I thank them for that. For the rest of you bleeding hearts...if you don't like the way it's done then grab a weapon and help them yourselves. Otherwise why don't you thank them for helping to ensure you can wake up in the morning with some semblance of security.

    Or maybe coddle the terrorists and they'll tell you what they know just because you're so darned nice to them...

    April 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  9. Fritos

    Hola Amigos:

    Nothing good can come from the release of these memos. It distracts from our major issues of Economy, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, North Korea, and Iraq.

    Don't know why Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama feel they must put the United States in such a bad light infront of the world – it wasn't necessary and looks like a "put-down" of our government. In my view we have nothing to apologize for or apologize to.

    As some others have said, this is WAR. Having eliminated the "draft", very few citizens have any notion of what WAR is and how it is fought. Releasing this kind of material is a bad tactic.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  10. bjnj

    Memos were well written, clear and understandable. Remember, these prisoners care less about the limitations on torture. Releasing the memos put the "crazies" on notice what to expect. When the crazies hit the US I wonder what our rock star will say!!!

    BJ NJ

    April 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  11. Barbara

    All those who claim that what the Bush administration did not constitute torture would change their minds in a heartbeat if they or one of their loved ones were subjected to the same treatment. The U.S. government would be howling from the rooftops if our soldiers were treated in the same way. And I don't think, even with the release of these memos, that we know the half of what went on.

    There is another consideration that Americans overlook, and it is the reason that prosecuting those responsible is so important. If the Bush administration gets a pass, another administration might not only rationalize torturing enemy combatants in time of war, but American citizens who dissent. It's a slippery slope we just cannot go down.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  12. Doug

    The bottom line is the US is supposedly against torture. The Bush administration ignored that. Yet, had one of our soldiers been captured and tortured, all h$ll would have come down on the offending country.
    To release the memos and then decide not to proceed with any action is ridiculous. This serves no purpose. Bush is out of office, Obama reinstated the no torture policy or whatever it is-move on-this is nothing more than a political move by the Obama administration to condemn the past actions of the Republican administration.
    I may have voted for Obama, but actions like this are not what I had hoped would come out of his administration-he has had a short time in office and I am all ready beginning to regret my vote.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Fred Pelton

    I was in the Naval Special Warfare Group and subjected to days of "Training" using the techniques described in the declassified documents. I have read the Memos.
    Most of the people that comment are not in any way responsible for defending our nation.
    I wonder what they would do to a captive if their wife or chiildren were in held and threatened? I know if they were holding my wife or daughters I would hoist them up by their testicles.
    Navy and a proud veteran

    April 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Peter

    Johnny DC and Mike,

    I agree 100% with everything you said. I for another believe the Obama
    Administration is heading in a direction that will severely weaken our
    homeland security and international strength. I trust what the President is doing on the domestic front but I'm getting very scarred at what direction his foreign policy is taking. The release of this information was not a wise thing to. I don't know if these tactics were absolutely necessary to prevent another 911 but the thing speaks for itself and if you have to fight fire with fire to save American lives than so be it.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  15. RT in KC

    The self righteous indignation of the left has no bounds. Calling these tactics torture and comparing these discomfort and humiliation tactics to tactics used by the Nazis, Khmer Rouge or any of the other true torturers from world history is beyond dishonest. It creates the illusion (to the uninformed – which is the majority of US citizens) that these true torturers were not as bad as they really were. If these tactics are torture, why isn't anyone arresting prison wardens for using solitary confinement as punishment for rule enforcement, military trainers for using sleep deprivation in training, or police officers for using similar shock and disorientation techniques in questioning criminal subjects.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  16. Aaron Seattle

    One last parting thought.....

    This is by no means a political gain. A political gain, if that is what the fascist right wants, would be war crime trials for the Bush administration. THAT WOULD KILL YOUR PARTY, Obama is doing you a favor and you don't even know it. MORONS

    April 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  17. steve in shreveport

    The fact that Obama has nothing more than apologies for the world, that he is embarassed by his own country, tells me all I need about the reason for releasing these memos. He is naive and dangerous as it relates to our security. The world (especially the Islamic world) responds and respects strength. Obama prefers a postion of weakness. When will he wake up? My guess is, never. Until the next inevitable attack comes. Which will signal the return of stronger leadership – from the right. Timid intelligence agencies are the by-product of risk averse administrations. We can't be everyone's ffiend, that is not how LIFE works! On a big playground, big bullies rule – and the wimps in the corner takes the pain....

    April 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  18. Tim

    Handcuffs?? Ms. Towsend is worried about handcuffs in the future??? She ought to be worried about cells and nooses in the present, or having to choose between those and cyanide capsules, like the last folks who were either "just following orders", or inventing the orders to be given...

    April 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Dustin

    Any of you people watch 24? Yeah. 'Nuff said. Its a TV show I'm aware, but that same kind of thing goes on today. There are political retards out there that are more concerned with making sure we don't "torture" a KNOWN terrorist who if he had it his way, we'd all be dead, than being certain American lives are safe. Are you really that worried about what we do to get information out of these people?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Tony

    I'm so sick of people in America trying to get away with lawlessness. These memos clearly indicate torture was approved by the CIA and Bush Administration. Why protect criminals? People have no problem putting regualr criminals in the spotlight via the newspaper or TV, but for some sick reason they want to protect National and International felons. What is wrong with people?

    This woman is just trying to keep the truth hidden to protect herself and her friends. Terrorism will increase across the nation because of Bush and people like Fran Townsend. The world knows America is without integrity or honor and doesn't care about law or humanity, just money. People like Fran, Bush, and Cheney make Terrorist want to destroy America because they make the whole country seem complicit.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  21. Rickymo

    This is an example that the 8 years of Bush was the closest thing we had to the Nazis in Germany and the facsists in Italy. Giving up our values and principles for any reasons is not what this country is about. The ends do not justify the means. I am happy that the Bush regime is now over.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  22. jim

    Why should the memo be released? Perhaps to further cement the fact that a bunch of Christian hypocrites have been running our country for far too long.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  23. Aaron Seattle

    Johnny DC – How is this a dark day for the country? Essentially these "legal documents" condone torture to get out of a person whatever any given administration wants. On the contrary, this is BRIGHT and SHINING day for the country as we are finally getting the real facts which were concealed from us. If a government claims to be of the people, by the people, and for the people then the people have a right to know what is being carried out in their name. What really scares me is there are people such as yourself who think government can do no wrong and you just stick your head in a hole without ever questioning why we do the things we do and if that is something we as a leader of the world should condone these actions which we swore not to do in accordance to Geneva.
    This will not affect how we conduct our intelligence gathering, let that be determined by the intelligence community not some woman who didn't really know anything about it.
    Conservatives: Really get over yourselves and quite with the cynicism. You people really need to get your heads out of the sand and start thinking for yourselves instead of quoting whatever the next headline you saw on FOX news. You are pathetic and your tea party accomplished nothing. Get over yourselves.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  24. Richard

    Individuals know when they are doing something wrong - whether there is a memo that "allows" it or not. Wrong is wrong. The defense that "I was only following orders." has been discredited for a long time. Why allow it now? Agents who committed terrorist acts in the name of democracy, or public safety, or protecting America (while abusing everything it stands for) should be prosecuted. Memo be darned; crimes against humanity cannot be "allowed" by memo.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  25. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    I'm not sure why people keep talking about the Geneva Conventions. No one captured during the war on terror and subjected to these policies are covered by the Geneva Conventions....PERIOD. The Geneva Conventions ONLY applies to uniformed members of an country that signed the Geneva Conventions agreement...PERIOD. Also these are people captured outside of the US and held outside of the US....where does anyone get off thinking they have rights....they are no member of the US, they do not live here, they have no international rights and have no legal rights under US law...PERIOD.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  26. William

    Wow, imagine this. A former member of the international war crimes organization called the Bush Administration suggests that the exposition of prima facie evidence of their crimes will hinder "The War on Terror (TM)". What a joke. Those horrible people should feel enternally gratefull that President Obama is not seeking criminal sanctions, but only disclosure. What we should do is round up several former Bush officials and give them a one way ticket to the Hague.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  27. Johnathan

    Agree with Colin (12:41):

    "...If we took any of the lawyers, (Bush and Cheney), who decreed that these were OK, (stripped them naked) tied them to a wall and let dogs snap at their genitals we could probably get them to confess to 911 too.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  28. Tom B Buffalo, NY

    Dean (12:45), I did read Scott's response at 12:05 and he inveigles the truth to a degree. The Clinton administration did not legitimize torture. Scott went through training to teach him how to survive some methods used by villainous regimes should he fall prey to them. Fortunately for him, he did not. However, as my comment above stated (12:35), if Americans and the world were to buy into the rhetoric of the Bush administration proclaiming America's supreme 'righteousness', then we should have stood by our laws and principles even if our task became more difficult to pursue.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  29. liberals suck

    I can't believe what I am reading. These people were TERRORISTS! What do we care how the government got answers from them? I am so sick of this. Liberals are such idiots. When are they going to realize the world isn't a game of Candyland and certain things must be done to keep us safe. Releasing these memos makes us a weaker, more at risk nation. All liberals care about is exploiting there own countries so-called wrong doings. These are the same people that sleep like babies in there bed at night and do not care about the sacrifices of many to allow them to do that. Really, do people really think this was a good idea? The people that do are just as bad as the terrorist that were tortured. How many lives were saved because of the information we got out of these TERRORISTS? Liberals do not think about that do they? I am a former soldier and I am disgusted with these people and everyone who thinks it is ok to put our nation in danger. Liberals please move to another country.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  30. Andy

    I think people are confusing what people in our government say with what people in our government *do*.

    Our moral high ground was based on appearances alone. Always was. We were the country of justice for all and morality and humanity because we said so, and we publicized only those actions that supported those convictions.

    However, when it comes down to it, in the heat of battle or behind closed doors, I'm fairly certain our people have used strictly illegal methods and practices against our enemies throughout our country's history, regardless of whether you think the methods in this memo are torture or not. The thing is, nobody knew about it, or we could at least plausibly deny it, saying "We're the US! We would never do such a thing!"

    When Bush decided we needed to "re-examine" the Geneva Conventions, whether our people abided by them in secret or not up to that point, he told the world, "The rules don't apply to us; we decide what torture is." For him to then proclaim, "we do not torture", made us look like a little kid with chocolate smeared all over his mouth in front of an empty plate of cookies, telling his mom, "I didn't do it." Who could possibly believe us when it came to torture?

    Will this memo do damage? Yes. Unfortunately, a terrorist doesn't really need more motive to strike against us – they have plenty. Was it a political move? At least in part, yes. In the end, I believe that this memo was simply a step towards rebuilding the appearance of our character, so that maybe in the future, when the president says "We do not torture", someone might actually believe him... whether we do or not.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  31. Jonathan in Lancaster PA

    Hey...all of those in favor of torture, and who like how the Bush administration found a way to get around our laws about torture, why don't you move to a country that sanctions torture? You'd be much more comfortable there, don't you think? In America, we do things differently...better...we hold ourselves to a higher moral standard. Torture, no matter how you justify it or define it, is taking the low road. If you want to take the low road, go ahead...just do it somewhere else.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  32. SLC

    I teach middle school students in America. I can tell you what our "let's-be-kind-to-one-another" policy is getting us: students who have sex in the teacher's bathroom if isn't locked, students who tell their parents when, where, and how high to jump, students who are so lazy they won't pick up their pencil to write a problem. Discipline at home? That would be "torture". Heaven forbid we "torture" a terrorist. That would be just too horrible to imagine. Watching 3,000 civilians getting crushed in the towers–that wasn't torture. Liberals are going to hand our country over to the world for free. We won't get it back without a LOT of torture–that is, our children or grandchildren having to die to get our country back. There is more to lose here than most people are willing to contemplate.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  33. Dan in Florida

    "If you don't want anyone to know what you're doing, don't do it." - ancient Chinese proverb

    April 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  34. Max Vanguard

    I can't begin to fathom why everyone is so concerned about the "inalienable human rights" of terrorists. These extremist animals would kill or horribly torture anyone in a heartbeat if given the chance. The way I see it, they forfeited their own precious human rights the moment they chose to kill scores of innocent people. Let's face it, you pot-smoking lefty liberals, having some water poured on the face is no comparison to the tortures and horrors that our soldiers have faced at the hands of the Taliban or Al Qaeda. And Al Qaeda would have done that to our soldiers whether we had waterboarded or whether we had not. If a terrorist detainee got his face wet and got locked up in a dark room, he got off way easier than anyone ever would in their sinister hands. Let's keep it all in perspective.

    Quit making the U.S. out to be the bad guy here, and remember the nearly 3000 dead that were lost on September 11th. We didn't instigate this conflict. Al Qaeda did. We are in different times with different enemies. You can't extract valuable, potentially life-saving intelligence from a detainee by giving him cable TV, coffee, and saying "please". I can assure you that the Guantanamo Bay detainees, for whatever "hardships" they've endured, were treated far better than they'd have ever treated us. Three squares a day, freedom to pray, and a roof over their heads. Yeah, such horrible torture we have inflicted upon them. Meanwhile, innocent people are blown up or beheaded daily at the hands of Al Qaeda.

    Don't talk about torture, because you whiney liberal drug-abusing abortionists don't have the first clue. You're pathetic.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  35. JP

    If Bin Laden is caught someday, he would say “Don't bother me; go talk to my lawyer”. I think that’s what it means.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  36. Michael K

    Wow! She has no idea why the memoes were released and likely has no idea what the core American ideology is?

    And she was a government official?

    I am concerned that America has lost its way since Reagan's election and we may not find it again.
    All through history the major warning sign of a societal collapse is the combination of a disregard for society's real values (in America's case: rule of law, individual sovereignty, consent of the governed, civil liberties and enlightenment based reason) and the fervent wish for respect of the tradition of tradition without any regard for the content of tradition.

    Ms. Townsend and the bulk of the Bush Administration may well be America's Neros.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  37. Alexander Woo

    So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your body parts than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you to lose one of your body parts than to have your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

    And torture surely is sin.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  38. Howard

    I don't know what is more alarming; that there were high level officials willing to draft and approve policies endorsing torture that sold our national soul down the river, or that there were (and perhaps are) so many willing to put those policies into use.

    Wasn't there ANYONE willing to speak up and say, "Hey, we're supposed to be the GOOD guys!"? This kind of thing really puts the protestations of the Nazis who said, "I vuz yust following orders," in a whole new light.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  39. arkadie7

    Only far wing nuts continue to argue that torture is useful. The bush cabal has not documented one instance where these tactics were fruitful. Instead people wasted time and money tracking useless information that instead was used as propaganda by bush to ramp up his bogus terror alert system whenever he needed to distract the general public when things were going poorly. As far as tactics, specific methods of torture have been known and utilized since the Inquisition. The idea that revealing them somehow provides information to the enemy is absurd. There is nothing new under the sun that hasn't been trotted out by sadists during the course of history. When a country tortures it has lost its moral compass and it subjects its own citizens/soldiers to similar tactics without recourse. Townsend posits that somehow public humiliation suffered by our gestapo who just followed orders, is comparable to the humiliation we subjected on alleged terrorists is ludicrous. Arguing moral high ground to the wingnuts is a lost cause because the concept of morality is lost on them, as it was on the bush administration.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  40. John

    Part of what gives you power over your enemy is the enemy's fear of the what they do not know. Exposing our techniques to the world has two effects. 1) It confirms the worst to our "allies" and 2) it shows our enemies the worst that they can expect. Neither of these make America safer or stronger. The benefit goes only to those who seek political gain and those who wish to do us harm.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  41. Kelly

    War is hell. Unbelievable that you cannot see that fighting these extremists takes a different approach. The terrorists are laughing at you now. Let the military do what it needs to, quit whining and support it.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  42. Kevin Denver Colorado

    Mike: on the interantional front – we’re on the verge of being over run by people who see his weakness and are ready to bull him and us over.

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

    April 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  43. adam

    i love the fact that they are showing the things that the bush administration allowed. torture is really pointless since people will confess to anything under torture ex the inquisition. plus spain and other world courts could use the memos to potentially charge bush officials with war crimes. interesting kind of reminds me of the white house during vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  44. Remember

    Hmmmm. Let's remember that Joe Biden himself predicted that within 6 months of Obama taking office a crisis would happen. So, we only have 3 months left. He has emboldened N. Korea and Iran with his naive and wimpy response. So when another 9/11 occurs, how is the left going to blame Bush for complete incompetence on how we need to respond to those who spawn and foster evil? Remember Daniel Pearle, beheaded for no reason? Do you remember the bodies of our soldiers being drug through streets? Do you realize these people WANT to hurt us? Why should we take pity on them when their sole mission is the destruction of the West and wiping Israel off the face of the earth?

    If these people are so "friendly" and can be "rehabilitated" or "won over" and we are so "bad" and "arrogant" as Obama has been spewing (his recent tour around the world apologizing for everything we do), then I would suggest as a start all the people who want to sing kum-by-ah with the terrorists sponsor a Gitmo detainee for rehabilitation in their own home, and then they can go home and sing the praises of America.

    I sure hope the lefties get a clue about the real dangers we face, and that BO can't save us with gutless moves.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  45. allen s.

    If any of you had a high value suspect you believed to have critical knowledge of a grave threat....Would any of you hesitate to use the methods described within the memo??? If you're loved ones were in danger would you even hesitate to do more??? The real question is deeper.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  46. Adam

    I think this was a good move. It shows to the world our commitment to make right what we did wrong. It has nothing to do with political points. When you are honest and fess up, you gain respect. RESPECT is where true safety lies. Safety through intimidation and fear and torture and temporary and fleeting as countless leaders have learned in the past. The ONLY path to true safety is to have EARNED the respect of the world. You don't attack people you respect.

    As for punishing "the monsters" as some have called them... the people performing the torture and such were under orders from the white house. If anyone is to be punished it is the people who made the decision at the top. The rest followed orders, and in the military, hierarchical structure, they are merely doing their job. Those that need punishment are the ones who came up with the idea and the ones who thought hiding it was a good idea. You only hide something you are embarrassed or ashamed of because it is wrong.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  47. Brian

    Dean – I read Scott's comment, and I respect his opinion. And yours too. If he doesn't think the practices detailed in the memos are torture, I am OK with that.

    But if I think those practices are morally wrong, and counterproductive in the long term, I don't think I should be called petty.

    A big problem with the secrecy of these practices, is it can lead to serious abuses. How does anyone know if any useful information was obtained? If any lives were saved? How do we know innocents were not frequently subjected to these techniques?

    Are we the American people supposed to just trust Bush & Cheney on those issues? Just trust the politicians? Be serious. Transparancy is much better.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  48. Mark

    Scott said: "At SERE they taught us how to resist and survive torture. They used many of the techniques listed in this memo in order to train me."

    To scott,
    RE: SERE

    These techniques were used on you so you would be familiar with and better able to withstand torture by our enemies? So they exposed you to a bunch of techniques that are not torture for what purpose? Was it in case you were captured and invited to tea?
    I guess your training worked. You have been so desensitized to torture that you don't even recognize it anymore. That's the scariest post I've read yet.
    Talk about "doublespeak"! The first two lines of your post are a total indictment of the Repub admins decisions, yet you see it as a defense? I think the worst torture performed on you was the brainwashing. 🙁

    April 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  49. Gary Smith

    It's appalling that the first thing she mentions is the impact this may have on her friends' careers.

    The US is *better* than other countries that torture (you know, torturers like the members of the Axis of Evil, or like any third-world dictator.. )

    How does releasing paperwork make us less safe? Nonsense. Bad intelligence, lazy intelligence, people who watch their backsides more than they watch out for the American public - THAT'S what makes us less safe.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  50. Paul J

    John,

    You say "These techniques (call them what you wish) have been proven to work. Who were they tested on? US Military personnel."

    Do you see the absurdity in this statement? What secrets did US Military personnel reveal to their captors(THE US MILITARY TOO)? Too funny to be believed.

    P.S. They have been proven NOT to work by most experts since you never know if they are revealings secrets or just telling you what you want to hear.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  51. Greg

    Good. Our intellgence community needs to be "risk averse".

    April 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  52. Bill

    We should get used to this kind of response and it should sound familiar. After World War Two no germans were members of the Nazi Party, and if they were in the government it was someone else's department, and bringing up old news like this is just meant to embarass or simply unpatriotic. I personally think they should be more than embarassed and if this ties our hands in the future I say, so what! Wrong is wrong, lets not try and rewrite history so we feel good about torturing people.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  53. Ron

    The United States is a nutty place, and getting nuttier by the day.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  54. Eric

    So all of you would rather see terrorist with their lawyers not giving up anything and our country more at risk, instead of us doing these ridiculously mild tortures in the small chance we will get information that might save human, not American lives?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  55. Eric

    Comments by the readers of this article bother me as an American a lot more than the interrogation techniques listed in the memos. Have any of the readers ever really spent time with people who want to kill other Americans? Have any of the readers been faced with a catastrophe that was eminent unless you could quickly act to prevent it. Few of us have or ever will. Therefore, it is impossible for most of us to even provide meaningful, relevant comments concerning this story, so we share our idealism and pat ourselves on the back that we're so much better than those who were involved in the interrogation techniques listed in the memo. However, if we knew that someone was going to seriously harm or kill our child, spouse, or loved one and we were the only ones to save our loved ones, I am certain that most of us would do whatever it takes to prevent harm to or death of our loved ones – certainly more than that listed in the interrogation procedures. No one should want another suffer, but in reality, sometimes it comes down to either our fellow citizens or our enemies suffering, and our leaders must make hard decisions to protect us – decisions that most of us hope to never face. Rather than post idealogical comments that waste everyone's time and protest interrogation techniques that are now ways of the past, suggest more effective ways off getting life-saving information quickly from those who are planning to kill. I wish that I had some suggestions, but I don't.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  56. Shane

    Someone please explain to me how letting the terrorists know in advance, they won't be tortured helps our cause? Even if we don't do it, why tell them? Let them believe there is a chance....let the fear itself do the work, even if we don't.

    I'm sick and tired of our population thinking it needs to know everything that our government does. We don't. We elect these people to handle it. 99% of American's couldn't either understand or deal with the everyday operations that our leaders/representatives go thru.

    To think that we the public can make an informed decision based on a news article is ridiculous. We'll never see the daily security briefings that these people see. We'll never know of the numerous attacks that we've foiled because of information gathered this way. We'll never know how many imminent attacks we currently have against us. Why? Because it would cause panic in our society. A horrible Mob Mentality.

    Our leaders, and intelligence personnel see these reports daily, if not hourly. Let the informed ones make the decisions. If you want to change something, run for office, apply for the job. Period.

    The more our population speaks out, the more our government acquiesces to our uninformed demands, and the less safe we get. Then when the next 9/11 happens, we'll tell our leaders they failed us again...... when we put them in that position.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  57. islandgirl

    what's with all the sympathy towards people who may or may not be terrorists? revealing all of this sensitive information is irresponsible , are we trying to incite more hatred towards the west? if that's the case, job well done. we are all so shocked and hurt that the government used torture methods on prisoners associated with terrorism. The government does a lot without the public's knowledge , let's not pretend to be naive. They weren't going to get information by tickling them with feathers or asking nicely. Being a first world country doesn't change the nature of war.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  58. Paul J

    "B. Thomas Cooper"

    Whenever someone says things like "I will never vote for him again.." It means they didn't vote for him, its just used for effect. Try to sell your story somewhere else where they are naive enough to buy it.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  59. John

    Torture has a very broad definition. You can easily call the interrogation techniqiues that the Bush administration approved "torture." However, if you treat suspected war criminals like regular civilians they probably aren't going to be very intimidated by thier enemy. For those of you who say "torture" or interrogation techniques do not work, you are wrong. These techniques (call them what you wish) have been proven to work. Who were they tested on? US Military personnel (as someone already stated they went to SERE Training). If US Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen can undergo this type of "torture" or interrogation techniques, than it is probably good enough for suspected terrorists.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  60. Andy Foreman

    Lets just face it and be honest about – the Bush Presidency was the darkest and the worst in American history. They simply played on the fears of ignorant (and often stupid) Americans, and set out their own agenda to finish the Iraq war that Bush's father knew enough not to finish. They never caught Osama (as promised) and Bush's original bull hockey about "compassionate conservatism" not only never materialized, but in the end was nothing more than a tag line to win an election so he, Cheney and the other jerks could rule like some monarchy. If we as Americans have any brains left, we will learn from this massive mistake and never allow another silver-spoon-liar to even reach local office, nevermind the presidency.

    Still, personally speaking, I would like to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfiwitz, and the rest of those scumbags brought to trial and convicted of treason, and then put away and put out of our misery.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  61. lou

    There was absolutely no good reason to make these memos public unless you are trying to score political points.
    These memos will only work to smear our image oveseas strenghtening our enemies and scaring our allies. To all you arm chair self rightous fighters of freedom should experience what it is like to defend your country in a real war or situation like 9/11. I wonder how you would have acted.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  62. Woeful

    The GOP should be exposed for who they are....torturists. They have been torturing this country with their right-winged propaganda for years, not to mention coupling there corrupt religious views with the state. They deprive this nation of prosperity for their own selfish gain. Now the truth comes out about Bush and Cheney, the Hitlar's of our time. America is not always right and has made some big mistakes to say the least. The previous administration brought us to the brink. Now you idiots are flocking to disfunctional Sarah Palin. Boy you are a bunch of selectively unintelligent people.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  63. nimrod

    I will admit that so far I have only read about the first 12 pages or so, but really don't see what the big deal is. I am quite sure that the interrogation techniques are unpleasant, and I am equally sure that waterboarding is terrifying, but so what? People are comparing these actions with what the Nazis and Japanese did in WWII and with the actions of the Khmer (sp) rouge, Viet Cong, et. al. It is just ridiculous to even obliquely make that comparison. I wouldn't want to go through any of the techniques used against our enemies, but compared to what the Germans, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Muslims have visited on our soldiers and civilians, all this seems pretty much like fraternity hazing. To pass on a statement I heard a while back, "If attaching a car battery to the scrotum of an enemy will save one American life, all I have to say is red is positive, black is negative, and don't forget to wet him down good first."

    April 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  64. Carl-John X Veraja

    Apparently, there are those who want law and order in this country without due process. But without due process law and order lose their moral center. The worst kind of lawlessness is the kind that hides behind a badge or a title. Without due process no terrorist can be brought to justice and the prospect for justice for us all is lessened. I never expected to live in the land of Big Brother when I was growing up in the USA but I have seen it in my own time. The war on terror is a pretext for controlling parts of the domestic and world population that the corporate and political neoconservative elite would like to see disappear. I would rather live with the risks of freedom than live safely with no freedom. I would like to see the people behind instituting torture in the USA brought to justice. I believe the majority is with me. If the USA were a true democracy I would see justice in my time.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  65. Paul J

    Yes Mike, be scared, be very scared. BOO

    This is end result of 8 years of the past administration, fear. Who to fear, what to fear and why to be fearful. And of course the old republican party line about democrats being weak on security and defense.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  66. Alan

    US soldiers were prosecuted for waterboarding during the Second World War. Why was it a crime then but suddenly okay during the Bush administration? The Bush adminstration's abrogation of the Geneva Conventions made the country, and our soldiers, less safe. Coming clean is a step in the right direction, but only a first step. "Just following orders" was not a good defense during Nuremberg; why is it okay now? At the very least, we need to prosecute those responsible for authorizing torture–are you listening, John Yoo?

    April 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  67. Brandon

    Here's how disclosing our interrogation techniques makes us less safe. I have friends in the Air Force who have developed their careers through survival training programs, one of which includes interrogation resistance training. They are subject to very harsh interrogation techniques for the prupose of strengthening themselves against such tactics – tactics which would normally lead to their divulging of sensitive information. If we tell the world what our interrogation techniques are, whether they are torturous or not, our enemies will be able to similarly train to resist, and we have compromised our safety. And if they build their resistance, we risk not gaining the sensitive information they possess.

    For those whining about torture – don't change the subject. We all agree torture is wrong. The issue is whether or not to publish our secrets to our enemies.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  68. Igiri-oke, Chicago

    Al Qaeda terrorists and its cohorts have been releasing memos on how they plan to destroy America while CIA has memos that kept America safe since 9/11.

    Now some Americans are happy about the release of CIA memos that kept them safe from terrorists! what a shame.! This is the greatest security blunder I have even seen. When shall we learn that security matters are purely and absolutely security matters?

    For God’s sake, there is no amount of money spent on national security that is too much and there are no national security actions taken to secure lives from terrorists that are too much.

    Now CIA is being made a political ping-pong ball, a laughing stock and toothless dog in this modern day when every country makes security a priority!

    Oh my God, I am crying for America!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  69. richard s

    Yes the truth has to come out. We all wish the rest of the world wouldn't learn about it and get a free pass, but the temporary suspension of Geneva conventions was huge and a disaster. Hopefully those days are over now, but investigations and charges must be filed. Some detainees were slaughtered by being zipped inside sleeping bags until they suffocated. The reason torture is outlwawed is because many times peple fighting you are only doing it because they were forced to; they really wanted out of it in the first place. Also, many detainees were caught up in an area, defined as a battle zone, who simply lived there, If they wre jailed they couldn't commit terror even if they were planning such. Torturing them just as often provides lies than anything useful. For example Cheney claims one confession was that Hussein collaborated on the WTC attacks. That guy simply said it because he was being tortured to say it. Cheney is so deceived he actually stated the day aftr ethe attacks that 9/11 is the work of Hussein, and then he proceeded to obtain the evidence to support his vested interest. Hussin was an enemy of Bin Laden and al Qaeda was kept out of there unitl we invaded. How difficult is it for pepel to grasp that? The Shia army we trained (against the written works of George Washington), built a foreign army that we now learn executed 16,000 civilains for simply living in their homes as 'revenge killings'. I say we need prosecutions on Bush and his White House Iraq Group for the lies they spread as truth, raning from the original invasion raitonale, lying to our troops to get them to quickly invade Iraq, and dropping Geneva. It's a sick package deal.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  70. Tony Justin

    Dean and Scott:
    I am a physician who works in an intensive care unit and I wish to respond to your false and misleading arguments:
    1. A prisoner who is stripped and placed in cold water for hours at a time can die from hypothermia. They didn't just splash cold water on the prisoner's faces. That is false according to the Red Cross report.
    2. A prisoner who is sleep deprived for several days can die. Nazi-era experiments clearly proved this. Sleep deprivation for 5,6, 7 days is often lethal.
    3. Restraining a person in a standing position, with a the arms secured over the head for several days can result in a myriad of persistent orthopedic problems, and can also lead to death from hypovolemia if the person is fluid-deprived (as they often were).
    I totally disagree with your view that these practices are not torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  71. chris

    this is going to "handcuff" future administrations?
    Good.
    That's the idea...We don't torture. Period. Any neo-cons who want to poo-poo waterboarding go through the process and get back to me.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  72. Tom in Tampa

    The terrorists want us dead. Period. The memo release puts poitics ahead of protecting the country.

    If one of your family members is killed I think you'll be willing to do more than slap them a few times or throw a caterpiller on them.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  73. roger Steffens Jr

    Terribly naive move to release those...unwise and self serving. A bit more of adult supervision is obviously required

    April 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  74. Chuck

    It is about time that we start to emerge out of the dark ages that the previous administration put us in. Torture is torture and it has been proven time and time again that information you recieve from a prisoner under torture is faulty at best. To those who think that these practices were acceptible I implore you to put your money where your mouth is and succumb to these "techniques" and see if you are singing the same tune.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  75. Dickm

    Why does CNN insist on providing the Bush Administration members a Forum to make their case in Public that what they did was necessary and ok. They are making a publkic statement that defends their actions in a way that they hope will sway public opinion in their favour and make it more difficult for the Obama AG department to get the poltiical support from the Congres to chase them down like they deserve to be. It's SO obvious and SO typical of the way U.S. governance works since the Karl Rove – Lee Atwater school of politics became SOP for the Republican party.

    To hell with the law we will go over the head of the laws of the country (and in this case of World-wide treaties) and create at least a false alternative argument and at best (for them) a brake on political will to enforce the laws and pursue the guilty.

    It's pathetic and humilitating and scary as hell to us in the rest of the world. The U.S. is supposed to be a triumph of laws and fairness and has become a bizarre shell of its former self and of its great self-serving "We are the Greatest Democracy in the World" attitude and replaced it with PR and Spin as the main force of its will. Scary stuff.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  76. coco

    what is the point of disclosing all this sensive information? to incite more hatred towards americans? , if that's the case , job well done. Let's not be naive , the government does a lot of activities that would go against a lot of international laws, we just don't hear about it . as for the people who are crying over terrorists , go to their countries ( especially if you're a woman) and see how well you are treated. Poor terrorists , they need massages and maitais on the beach paid by yours truly. Do people really think a terrorist will talk by being tickled ??? c'mon!!!!1

    April 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  77. Bobby

    Dean, the bigger issue at hand is letting the American public know what is going on! I'm in the military also, and yes, they do train us that way because some countries won't follow the laws of armed conflict. They won't send us unprepared for the worst! The point is trying to become the better person, and not go down to their level.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  78. Boisepoet

    To Johnny DC and others that support Bush's use of torture:

    When did it become ok for the US to act like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao? Why do you think it is ok to use their methods?
    Why do you want to destroy our Constitution?

    April 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  79. Rick

    I have to question the motive for releasing these documents.
    It's not like they were cutting off their eyelids or talking a hammer to their toes.
    It was stress techniques.

    Go take a look at the navy SEAL training course. The whole point of it is to both physically and mentally break you down. It's pure hell... worse than anything described in the memos.
    Guess we should ban the training techniques used by all of our special forces as well.

    Contrary to all you bleeding heart liberals, asking pretty please doesn't work with hardcore militants. Sometimes you have to get a little rough.

    Welcome to reality folks. Until the entire world is rid of extremists, there will always be a need for making people talk.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  80. Victor

    THE DEFINITION OF TORTURE IN MY BOOK:

    HAVING A PASSENGER JET FLOWN INTO AN OFFICE BUILDING AS INNOCENT, UNARMED CIVILIANS SIT DOWN AT THEIR DESKS TO DO THEIR JOBS.
    HAVING TO DECIDE WETHER TO JUMP FROM THE TOP OF A FLAMING HIGH RISE BUILDING OR BE BURNED TO DEATH BY THE JET FUEL THAT'S BRINGING THAT SAME BUILDING DOWN.
    HAVING TO CRASH A PASSENGER JET INTO THE GROUND KNOWING THAT YOU'LL NEVER SEE YOUR LOVED ONES AGAIN.
    THAT'S TORTURE
    . AND NOW I HAVE TO DEPEND ON A COOKIE CUTTER EMPTY SUIT OF A POLITICIAN TO DEFEND ME! GOOD LUCK TO US ALL.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  81. Tel

    "But by disclosing them you’ve really handcuffed future administrations."

    Yes, and good for him. They are not legal, despite whatever the Justice Department (which part of the Executive, not the Judicial) says. They never were legal, and they should never be made legal. If they are ever used, it should be with the full knowledge that the people involved will be prosecuted.

    I'm disappointed in Obama's refusal to prosecute the rank-and-file for this. I'll be even more disappointed if he refuses to prosecute the brass and officials that ordered these reprehensible memos published. I can't see how anyone drawing up that document could possibly have been acting in "good faith." If you think that enforced nudity for hours doesn't amount to inhumane and degrading treatment designed to cause suffering, you are willfully ignoring reality.

    Regarding Burns' comment ... Obama already told the terrorists how we're going to interrogate them: exactly according to the Field Manual, and nothing else. He made all other techniques illegal by executive order within the first week of taking office. He told the terrorists nothing new by releasing these memos.

    I'm fully aware that there is a possibility that by our intelligence community not torturing someone, I will die as a result. Perhaps I will live, but my wife and daughter will die. That is a chance I am willing to take. I would rather live with that risk than know, with a certainty, that KGB and Gestapo torture tactics are being used on prisoners in my name. Since when did we become a people so cowardly that we prefer the victory of evil to sacrificing our own lives?

    April 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  82. Mike

    If these memos are LEGAL, BONA-FIDE opinions then I have a really simple question: why would the Bush admin fight to hide them? Why not come clean? Answer: because it's wrong and they know it.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  83. Bob Kronk

    This is the question I've had in my mind for years, since I first heard that "medical" personnel may have assisted in these "interrogations". Don't doctors take a Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm". If doctors were involved with these "interrogations" shouldn't state licensing boards be investigating as to whether licenses should be suspended or revoked? Or are doctors (or psychologists or whomever) somehow off limits to state licensing boards if you're in the military?

    April 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  84. Kim

    The one thing that seems to get lost in all of the talk of the Geneva convention is that is about military personnel that is caught on a battlefield. Those rules don't apply to these people. They are not military personnel from a country. They are fighting about an idealogy. I just don't think that they deserve those protections. That being said, I don't think that torture works in most cases.
    The one thing that I wonder is that if we had gotten someone like Atta a few days before 9/11 and waterboarded him and prevented the murder of 3000 people would it still have been wrong? I don't think that many of the families that lost a loved on that day would say so. We need to stop making it so black and white. Because it is not. Even Alan Dersowitz has said that it should be used in certain circumstances and he is far from some right wing zealot. I want me and my family to be safe. Releasing information about CIA officials may not be the way to accomplish this.
    I think that every administration needs to have a level of protection in regards to memos. If people think that they are going to be outed and embarassed it may stifle the conversation and the advice they give to the President. Regardless of who is in office. I was against it when secret service had to give info about President Clinton.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  85. Kevin W

    Looking from the outside, on the East Coast of Canada, all I have to say is who is surprised? I mean really, is anyone surprised that these memos exists? Is anyone surprised that the public instances of torture, such as the infamous pictures from Iraq, which were thrown on the shoulders of a few "renegades", were in fact sanctioned by the administration (they sure threw a few people under the bus to protect their own asses didn't they)?

    I guess a good question is if the lawsuits will fly from those convicted of carrying out the administrations policies...

    April 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  86. Ray in Vegas

    Wow! The arrogance of this woman is amazing. She is not credible in her claimed ignorance about these methods. She completely misses the point that torture is wrong, no matter how you dress it up legally.

    This move is exactly the kind of action I wanted to see when I volunteered and voted for this President. Even if torture was VERY effective .... the ends never justify the means. We do not turn into our enemies. Of COURSE they were among the most heavily guarded secrets. These methods are obhorrent. Well done Director Holder!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  87. Mid-West

    I think the problem here is once again we are calling something, something that it is not, torture is pain and disfiguration. These tactics were not like racking, beating and electrocuting somebody. Were these warm and fuzzy no, but you went home and slept quite soundly every night because of them. Those who disagree have obviously never been involved in an interogation, I have. People just don't smile at you and tell you the truth. This was a legitimate government function and not torture. Grow up and get a life, real life is not always pretty, but this is your typical Democrat name calling tactic.
    Too bad that you don't remember seeing the bodies falling from the World Trade Center as desperate men and women jumped to escape flames. It is weak minded fools like you who make such easy targets for the vicious terrorist extremist that have vowed to exterminate the likes of you.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  88. kyle

    Why release the memos? Just tell us why. There seems to be no rational purpose. Everyone who hates the techniques or decisions already thinks/knows what bassically happened. Those who do not object to the techniques don't object to them now. The purpose in releasing them is just to threaten those who do the interrogations, the legal advice and the intellegence gathering to be weary that despite being told its is okay to do it and its legal they will none-the-less be subject to trial, humiliation and ridicule brought on by the President of the United States.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  89. stevetall

    As a patriotic American, I have a hard time letting politicians hide behind claims that their criminal behavior is somehow making us safer. That's what Hitler said. The Constitution is pretty clear regarding equality, justice, and civility. The true test for torture should be allowing it to be performed on yourself. You'll know right away if you should consider it torture. Many people have died defending a country that holds life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in high regard, and all loyal Americans should be as offended as I am that the past administration tried to justify their behavior. We got a lot less safe than we were prior to GWB and his band of self-absorbed, greedy weasels showing up. Now that this band of low-road morons are out, I'm happy to see America back on the high road. Promoting our lifestyle by truly believing in it, that all people deserve to live it, is the only way. We will never be able to torture someone into believeing.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  90. Nate

    All paise Obama for putting our dirt out into the light. I say we start planting flowers in Iraq, and afghanistan. Change the army issue camo to pink, and give them super soakers. I mean there are no threats anymore to the US now that Obama has saved us from ourselves, and our evil American ways. VIVA OBAMA!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  91. Bman

    Burns,

    Caplocks does not help you to be heard. it just makes you look dumb.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  92. Dayne

    The idea that keeping this dark period in our nation a secret is just plain wrong. Also wrong was the executive effort and resources behind our actions in the first place. The Obama administration deserves credit for being honest with the American people.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  93. Shaun Alexander

    That whole "interview" reminds me not only of Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil," but a wonderful line from an old Hollywood classic:

    Scarlett O'Hara to Rhett Butler: "You've lived in dirt so long you don't know anything else."

    April 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  94. TG

    Again we see that all these people who so quickly handed the keys to Bush after the now, apparently forgotten, 9/11 attacks are whining about torturing cold-blooded killers who hate even those of you who want to save them. We were massacred on 9/11 and we haven't been attacked since. That's enough for me. If it keeps me safe, torture away. We owe them nothing.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  95. Ed

    Wether or not this is torture at all is debatable. Flying 2 perfectly aircraft into the worldtrade towers is torture (for those who weren't killed outright) for those who had to "Decide" how to die (jump or burn) THATS TORTURE. To the survivors who must live with the memory of HOW they died...THATS TORTURE. And...please....save the civilized scociety argument....In case you haven't figured it out...and judgeing by some of these comments...most haven't.......THE OTHER GUYS AREN'T LISTENING nor DO THEY CARE about our little debate here. Oh yea....and I suppose knowing that your loved one was be-headed and that the video was circulated worldwide.....you can bet thats torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  96. Art

    There is no legitimate debate about "whether or not waterboarding is torture". This method and others that were declared legal by the Bush administration Office of Legal Counsel in these memos should see the light of day and be exposed for what they are: torture. Use of these methods, not their exposure, is what endangers the U.S. Not only do they violate principles of human rights and debase our standing in the world, their use has been shown not to work in their stated objective of getting reliable information from captives. Experienced interrogators from the FBI refused to participate in interrogations which used these methods of torture because they knew that they were wrong and they caused captives to lie and tell interrogators whatever they wanted to hear so that the torture would stop.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  97. Dean

    I can't believe Scott's response did not generate one reply to this point! Here's a guy who went through and new those that went through all those techniques...and all we get from most of you is the sound of crickets chirping. Read what he said, it was posted at 1205pm.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  98. Bobby

    The American people should not have known about the memos!? Are you fricking kidding me? There is no harm in knowing what is being done to terrorists. If the memos weren't shameful in any way, the Bush administration should have let the truth been known of what is occurring behind closed doors. I appreciate the truth, and I want to know the truth, and to be told by Frances Townsend that we should be denied this truth is an outrage!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  99. Andrew

    She asks "What was the purpose of releasing these memos?" No administration would ever say it, but it's clearly to humiliate the people who put out opinions saying torture is ok, to humiliate those who perpetrated the torture, and to humiliate those who (Bush, Cheney) who consistently denied it was happening.

    Now everyone knows – if you torture prisoners in the USA, it will be known. Documents will be released. You may be prosecuted. Why humiliate them? So that it will never happen again. That's why.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  100. Anon

    Eric, you are an idiot! Ever heard of sodium pentothal? It has been scientifically proven that torture is ineffective as a person will say anything you want if you torture them enough. Heard of the Spanish Inquisition? Get an education morons!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
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