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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. DD in AZ

    You're all correct. Give these indivduals who would like nothing more than to sever your heads in your sleep some milk and cookies and cable T.V. the poor souls.............
    Nazi's? Please consider what the Nazi's did and why they did it before even thinking about a comparison. If you think this administration is going to be clean and pure at it's completion I feel for you and our country.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  2. Akin in Texas

    I wonder why we went to war with Iraq. The argument was first "Weapon of mass destruction", then "Saddam is a bad person who turtured his own people". Yet we invaded his country for turturing his people. I do not for one moment condone what Saddam did, but imagine for a minute, what will happen to a country, if they arressted a U.S citizen and turtured him. Just think about it for a moment, before posting your opinion on this topic.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  3. Scott

    What country did these enemy combatants fight for to be covered by the Geneva Convention? What torture actually took place, for all of you so sure that it did? Have any of you personally knocked on the family's door of Daniel Pearl and explained your feelings on the subject? Do me a favor and don't kiss your husband/wife or kids goodnight tonight, or any other night for that matter for the rest of your lives. Without being able to extract information about future attacks, they could be dead just like the thousands of other innocent civilians, both American and other, killed by these people. P.S. – How many of these prisoners were killed while in our custody? How many innocent people have been killed by them? The best thing that has happened since 9/11 was us going into Iraq and allowing the rest of Arab world to see that the people fighting in the name of Islam are actually indiscriminate killers who will kill any innocent person in their way, even those of the same religious background. The surge was nice, but the realization of the Iraqi people that these extremeists are just evil people has paved the way towards greater stability in that country and the Middle East, though the effort is far from over.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Stephen

    The fact that the Obama administration would divulge these prematurely, just for political gain is shameful.

    The last administration did that kind of stuff (even though their political agenda was entirely different), and now I am starting to see that the Obama administration will do whatever it has to in order to further their own political agenda.

    I am ashamed that I voted for Obama! But I definitely won't do it again!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  5. John NY

    While changes to these policies may be justified, this should have been addressed within the appropriate spheres, it does no service to release them to the public. Was the objective to open this up for some sort of debate? No, rather this was a way of signaling change for the new administration (which I understand) and piling on another "shame on you" to the previous administration which, coming out of a campaign that was so committed to looking to the future, feels decidedly counterproductive. I voted for Obama and agree with the idea that a strong dose of transparency is a positive step, however this "fishbowl" of an admistration they are working to create is leading to muddled decision making, leaves them open to future administrations and detractors calling the out on promises they cannot deliver on (which will be many) and frankly dangerous, as in this instance. It is a slippery slope in terms of informaiton release, demonstrates alack of confidence in the country and yes, does provide dangerous insights for our enemies as to how far they will be pushed to provide information that can protect us. The government will always bend the rules, regardless of administration or party (history has proven this, from JFK to Reagan) and there are a lot of things that we as citizens just don't need to know about. Do the employees of a company get invited to participate and have knowledge of every business decision? Decisions would take years, be indecisive and leave the co. open to competitive threats, as in this instance.

    I'm 33, live in midtown Manhattan and watched the second plane slam into the WTC from the roof of my apartment and really don't want to see anything like that i'd prefer to leave this to the professionals and let them make the appropriate decisions – that's why the public hired them – not to a public voice that feels they have an ax to grind with the previous administration and just can't let go.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  6. LexJeff

    Making someone wear their underwear on their head is not torture. Making someone sit naked in a cold room is not torture. Throwing a few spiders in the room with someone who is arachnophobic is not torture. We do not, and have not in the past, physically beat, maimed or otherwise truly tortured our detainees. Talk to the recipients of real torture at the hands of the militant potential man-made disaster causers...and you'll get an inkling of the true definition of torture. Oh, wait, you can't....because most of those folks are dead!

    Aaron, et al, name specific 'war crimes' that Bush is guilty of, and be careful not to conjure up a simple quote out of the daily koz or a talking point sent to your email by a BO campaign proxy site, but rather cite a real law that was broken. Betcha can't. Even BO, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, now says things like domestic surveillance is 'fully constitutional and legal' and will retain those activities even though he bashed such items on the campaign trail to satisfy the liberal hounds.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  7. Disappointed

    I always believe it is difficult to judge behavior when all the facts are not available. However, I fail to see how disclosing this information to the world at large can be in this country's interest.
    It strikes me as interesting that just last week Bush was said to be breaking his silence--and it is now that this administration releases embarrassing information.
    I cannot but help wonder whether this administration places its own political interests in front of our country's best interests.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  8. Jeremy

    Frankly, I think it's funny how much both sides scrutinize and try to one-up each other. I see it in the politicians and I see it in the constant arguing of the American people. The reason I personally don't care for politics and believe it's a big joke is because of stuff like this. Everyone knew that these things were going on during Bush's reign of stupidity. The left just decided to make it public to elevate themselves even further. All the while, the common people are at each other's throats, bashing on each other, never lending an ear to understanding, and defending the corrupted values of the government. I'm not at all convinced that any of these people in Washington, left or right, give a hoot about any of us. They use their fancy rhetoric and their finger-pointing to advance their political careers to be able to waste our hard-earned money on pointless wars and bail out greedy executive scumbags. Makes me sick.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  9. Amy

    steve in shreveport: The world (especially the Islamic world) responds and respects strength. Obama prefers a postion of weakness.

    Oh yes. The Islamic world has shown time and time again just how much they respect brute strength and force. That is why they respected President Bush so much, correct?

    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. How can we fight terrorism when we ourselves are torturing? What sense does that make? Using brutal tactics only shows that we are terrified and running out of options. 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.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  10. Tom B Buffalo, NY

    steve in shreveport, your argument is foolish. Democrat and Republican administrations over the past century have railed against the bullies of the world under the banner of righteousness in defense against bullying, whether they were soviets, fascists or imperialists. With the end of the Cold War the Bush administration decided to assume the role of bully with their doctrine of unilateralism and the USA became the new soviets. It’s time we returned to the values that made us truly strong, admired AND a force with which to be reckoned. This was accomplished in the past by fostering understanding and friendship with like-minded cultures around the world, not bullying. United we stand, alone and divided we will fall.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  11. Craig inTexas

    Dustin, I'm more worried about "political retards" like you who think there is any similarity between fiction and real life. I'm a fan of "24" also. And I have literally cheered when Jack Bauer but a bullet in the kneecap of a terrorist who had knowledge of a "ticking time bomb" scenario. But that's FICTION moron. When you know without a doubt someone is a terrorist and about to kill, sure, go ahead and kneecap him! But you don't have the luxury of knowing in real life. Quit forming your opinions from fictional TV heroes, or next thing we know you'll be warning us about the danger of releasing NASA secrets for fear of a Kilngon attack.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Bruce S

    I would like to know if any surving family members of victims of 9/11 would agre to these interogation methods if it would have stopped 9/11 from ever happening.

    I bet my bottom dollar that if you had a choice between an interogation such as this or the direct loss of a loved one 90% of persons would agree to torture methods to save the lives of family members.

    In the end that is what we are talking about. Not Nazi Germany, not war between states. Terrorists should not have Geneva convention rights or any other rights. They slaughter inocents plane and simple.

    I would be the first to stick a gun in a mans mouth and ask hard questions if it was going to save my family.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Chuck

    I can't believe they released these documents. IDIOTS! Are we just on a mission to weaken ourselves to a point of self destruction? and what the hell?, no more torture? that's just wrong. If the terrorists don't want to get tortured then maybe they should have taken a different career path..

    April 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Cheri

    All of you Republicans seem to have forgotten that 9/11 TOOK PLACE ON BUSH'S WATCH. WALL STREET ALSO TOOK PLACE ON BUSH'S WATCH. I'll bet you've found a way to blame that on the democrats too, right? You're delusional. WAKE UP! Obama told us he was going to wipe the secrecy out of government, and that's what he's trying to do. I doubt he cares one iota about any of your opinions of him (or what he stands for).

    April 17, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  15. J.Crobuzon

    Of course the Bushies hate that their crimes are revealed; it makes Obama look like the better, more moral man.
    Steveport, I don't wanna be everybody's ffiend; I'm not devilish in the least and it's against what remains of my religion to worship fiends. America used to lead the world, not scare it.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  16. 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 the permitted. If they do not think it is torture- let's try it on them!

    April 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  17. JayW in Austin

    As a child growing up, I learned from watching John Wayne movies and from preachers and politicians, that we were the good guys. We didn't do morally suspect things like torture. Bush took us to the other side. Luckily, Obama is trying to bring us back.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  18. Michael, Chapel Hill

    1-Why was the Pirates shot ?
    2-Is it not inhuman?
    3-Does it not violate Human Rights?
    4-Why did we not meet Pirates demand for negotiation & money?
    5-Why did we bring one pirate to the mainland?

    Would the next administration and its cronies find the policies of the present administration ojectionable...?

    April 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  19. Dimslie

    In a famous encounter during the 1970's an Israeli General testified before a committee of our Congress. He was asked (by a Democrat, of course) if having women serve in frontline infantry positions causes a military unit to lose any effectiveness. His response was: "The mere fact that you would ask such a question shows that you do not take your military seriously." This is a similar situation. We have in custody a coldblooded mass murderer who has engaged in a conspiracy to murder additional innocent civilians. The Liberal mind is unable to grasp the distinction between that individual and a prisoner who is a uniformed combatant from another nation. Being unable to recognize the obvious, the Liberal is willing to see her (or in some cases, his) fellow citizens slaughtered in order to not cause mental distress to the murderous conspirator. I suggest that the Obama administration put considerable effort into the speech that they will need to load into His teleprompter when the next 9/11 occurs. The majority of the country will want to hear why he chose to let it happen rather than inconvenience a terrorist.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  20. slt3

    How does realeasing OLD information put us in more danger??? There was no release of anything when we got attacked on 9/11. If anti-U.S. entities are going to "try us" they'll do it based on based on their own twisted views and information. Remember, Obama didn't MAKE this mess we're in but it's his job to clean it up! This isn't about Democrats vs. Repbulicans, it's about making our country better here at home AND abroad. Considering how deep we're in the muck that's not gonna be easy or painless for ANYbody.

    If any of you think you can do a better job and have a better 'handle' on the situation stop posting here and go DO something to contribute. It's too easy for all you critics to sit back in the comfort of your couch and second-guess everything from your–expansive and knowlegeble realm.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  21. EarGrayHot

    The reason these record/memos were released is that the American people have a right to know what heinous things the former administration was up to. Ever hear of the Freedom of Information Act? Most secrecy is not for national security reasons but to shield wrong doing and such horrible acts as torture, and make no mistake, this is torture and the mealy-mouthed explanation that it isn't is nothing but crap. These actions were intended to humiliate and degrade people suspected of, but in most cases never proven to be involved with, terrorism.

    Holder may be right that these people cannot be prosecuted for doing these things because their higher-ups said it was ok but he ought to try anyway. Any decent human being would not treat other human beings with such callous disregard. The Bush administration knew quite well what they were commiting torture or they would not ahve tried so hard to deny it and keep it secret. You don't try to hide something if it is on the up and up.

    And honestly, if you torture people, expecting them to tell you the truth it will probably not work anyway. What you will get is a man who will say ANYTHING to make it stop. You risk getting wrong information this way in addition to becoming morally corrupt. Sadam Hussein used torture and we decried it. Using these methods make us no better.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  22. Kevin

    The moral high ground is what makes us different from the bad guys. It also calls for criminal prosecution of the lawyers who wrote torture into the US playbook.

    The damage was done when the evildoers decided that a little torture was a good idea, not when we decided to out the evil and, gee, embarass the torturers. Frankly, had I the power, I would send half of the bad guys to Gitmo and the other half to Saudi Arabia for a dose of their own medicine.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  23. Will

    These techniques aren't a secret. They've been released before – memos have already been published regarding the interrogation techniques. Now we're dealing with the legal hoops the administration used to justify them, not the actual memos themselves. This makes Bush's old adviser look stupid.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  24. Steve M.

    Lets see, they plot to kill innocent civilians and destroy our country, we slap them around a little. What this administration is saying is that we are the bad guys. A jihadist will plot to blow up an embassy and kill hundreds, but we're wrong to slap his face.
    If this was 2001, the person getting slapped would be Eric Holder.
    Short memories people, short memories.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  25. Terry

    To say that we had won court cases to keep these memos secret is a bit dishonest. As I understand it the ACLU had been petitioning for these memos to be released for several years. They had been working their ways through the courts and were about to be ordered released ANYWAY, so all of the hubbub around this is a bit of a red herring.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  26. Zach Grisbee

    So in requesting a clarification to whether these techniques are torture and being told "no, they do not classify as torture", they are torturing people? They asked if these procedures would be legal, their legal counsel said according to the law that they ARE legal. That means that it wasn't torture.

    If you want torture, we can look at the human mutation experiments of the Nazi regime, the mass murders and executions that were forced on people during that time. Imagine being forced to kill people that you are in confinement with as the Nazi's and others did. THAT is torture. What the CIA was doing was making sure they weren't torturing first before doing something wrong.

    The truth is that these memos SHOULD reinforce that the decision to use these techniques was sought lawfully and they were upheld by the laws that are in place for torture.

    It would be one thing to do them and be told they are illegal, however, they asked first and were told it is legal. That shows dignity, honesty and respect to the law. However, too many people think that any discomfort is torture, regardless of what the law says. So popular opinion wins and the law loses.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  27. Rick McDaniel

    I find it amusing that so many people seem to have a feeling about right or wrong, on this topic, and most of them would defraud a retail store, for merchandise, given the slightest chance.

    Let me just say, that in these kinds of situations, people were dealing with those who would have slit their throat, without a second thought. You do what you have to do, what you are told is ok to do, to try and protect your unit, your mission, and your country. Sometimes that means you do things you might not like, but life doesn't always give you options.

    Most veterans know that. Those who sit in their easy chairs, and enjoy life, oblivious to what the veterans have to deal with, need to be a little less critical of those, who are out there trying to protect them.

    The people being dealt with, were not just individuals, after all, but a part of a world wide network of thugs, assassins, and terrorists. trying to get information on an operation of that scope, was a major undertaking.

    Those who would take the high road, in such situations, usually end up in graves.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  28. Redleg

    So everything was cool at Auschwitrz because Dr. Mengele or one of his staff physicians was present?

    April 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  29. drc

    Scott...I agree 100% with your first-hand experience and cannot believe there is a segment of our population that buys into the left-wing garbage about this being must be some fantasy world these people live in that think everyone in this world will 'get along' that no one is against the US and that there is never a time where information may need to be extracted for the better of our country

    Scott April 17th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

    I am so saddened by what is happening to our country. I am a retired Marine/Naval officer. In the early 90’s I went through ’survival evasion, resistance, escape’ training known as SERE for the Navy. Later, the CIA developed it’s interogation techniques from the SERE program. 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. I was stuck in a dark cramped box for hours, put in pressure positions, deprived of sleep, doused with cold water, slapped in the face, forced to urinate and deficate into a folgers coffee can and then had to sit with that can in a very small cell (about 2.5 X 4 X 3) for hours at a time. I never got waterboarded but about 25% of us did. These activities weren’t considered torture then. What happened? The answer is that for political gain, the left characterised everything that George W. Bush did as evil. Well, it wasn’t evil when the Clinton administration was doing it to it’s own military men and women. And in fact, it’s not evil now. None of these techniques is torture. None of them caused any severe pain or threatened the lives of our military men or enemy combatants that we used them on. They’re only considered torture now because the democrats had to use that word in order to achieve the greatest effect in their attacks on Bush. For all of you who are outraged by these techniques, I wish you could be aware of what you’ve done to our country with your pettiness. The next time we need information from a terrorist he will laugh in our faces. I know I would.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  30. Scott

    Just the typical hypocrisy.

    Wrap yourself in the flag and yell out American ideals - just keep all of your violations of those ideals in the dark.

    Yell out "Family Values!" - just keep all of your affairs and sodomy out of public view.

    Rail out against the harm drugs impose upon our society - just make sure nobody sees all of the prescriptions you get from doctor-hopping.

    Do I need to go on? Face it, America has lost its values and most of our society is crying out that we need to dig ever deeper into #$@#$ to show that we cherish those values.

    Disgusting and immoral.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  31. Steve

    A voice from the center:

    I don't have any problem with the Obama administration saying they disagree with the Bush policies regarding interrogation techniques and making the changes they deem appropriate. I think Obama is a good man trying to do the right thing – I won't go as far as to say he's above partisan politics. But I think that broadly applying the word "torture" is misleading and possibly harmful.

    Understand that if you want information from some one who doesn't want to give it to you, you're going to have to add some stress.

    This is a very difficult ethical question. Do we stick to our principles no matter what? Here's a scenario for you: Your child has been kidnapped; the police catch the kidnapper and learn that he has locked your child in a cell and has no intention of telling anyone the location. Your child will die within a few days without water. Do you now stand on your principles and ask nicely for the location and hope for the best? Or, if given the opportunity, do you make the kidnapper less than comfortable?

    Now think about the children of thousands.

    For those who are so sickened by the actions of the Bush administration – wait. Wait a few years and maybe we'll learn that thousands, possibly tens of thousands of American lives were saved by some of the things you so abhor.

    Things aren't always as clear-cut as they seem.

    Finally, let's drop the Nazi analogy. The Nazis defense was that they were following orders. This is not an issue of following orders; rather, it's a discussion of what constitutes torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  32. CD in OC

    Soft interrogations = less useful info to act on. Less useful info to act on = less need for prisoners/detainees. Less need for prisoners/detainees = more need to kill first and wonder who they were later when on the field of battle.

    Less need for prisoners/detainees pre-battle means more need to deeply infiltrate all kinds of organizations = decrease (to some) in civil rights. Need to deeply infiltrate also = lots more time and money to put spys into organizations and protect and control them.

    Time normally equals years to decades to get useful information = no ability to act to prevent hostile actions such as 9/11 or 7/12 for quite some time.

    Risk aversion for intel = not wanting to show up as making poor choices or leading to unnecessary casualties on either side which is bad press and suggests not knowing what is going on which suggests poor intel and thus a need to know more.

    But...prisioners aren't useful anymore are they...not even to find who murdered innocent people because no really significant stress can be applied ever. There is a balance however control of tools vs removal of tools is a better approach.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  33. Johnny DC

    Of course, all the Liberal crazies are misinterpreting my original sentiment for something it's not. Reread my first comment (one of the first on this subject), and take it for what I meant.

    I am not condoning or blasting the use of torture. What I'm saying is that, whether torturing terrorist suspects was right, RELEASING the findings of these classified reports was abhorrent. Say what you will about "being clear and apologetic" to the world, but these reports were released 100% for political gain. These reports damage America - they inevitably weaken our stance on the global front. That is undeniable. There is something to be said for coming clean and showing our findings to the public, but in the case of national security, this decision was more than laughable. It was appalling.

    I am a member of the public. And let me be clear – I do not demand to know the ins and outs of our intelligence sector. Certainly not to the point where it hinders their effectiveness.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  34. Amy

    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 the terrorists.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  35. drc

    I hope ALL of you that think this was torture or think this was a good move by the Obama Admin to release this information feel much comfort when the next terror attack occurs (not if, but when) because our law enforcement or CIA or whoever, has their hands tied and cannot extract information from a terrorist.

    No one said life was a bed of roses...there ARE people out there (believe it or not) that hate the United States, that hate YOU because you are American....and would love every opportunity to torture and kill let us hope if someone is ever tortured/killed or there is a terror attack in this country...100% of the victims will be the idiots on this post that find it awful that there are tactics out there to extract information from TERRORISTS.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  36. Thomas

    One more point. I see some very strong Obama supporters here. With that said, how can you sit there and denounce Bush for approving torture to get information that could save lives and yet be so supportive of Obama approving the sniper shots on the pirates off the Somalia coast that at the point had not killed anyone on the Maersk Alabama? Pirates aren't even considered terrorists and now there are 3 dead and more are threatening US and French vessels because of his decision to use force to save ONE ship captain. These terrorists killed THOUSANDS and you are upset at Bush? You should really take a look in the mirror folks. It's fashionable to be a liberal right now and I'm okay with that. People will say anything to bash Bush b/c that's the cool thing to do and the easy thing to do. As much as I disagree with many things he did in his 8 years, I support Bush's administration in these tactics. I also support Obama in the pirate ordeal. There is no difference here people. Get over yourselves, quit complaining, and lets work to get America back on her feet.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  37. Shaun

    Reply to RT in KC

    "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."

    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. Many countries throughout the world continue to use a variety of techniques, some clearly defined as torture others reside in that gray area as "borderline"

    "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."

    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.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  38. gridwerk

    I remember when we got attacked the SECOND time right after 911.... oh wait, thats right- we DIDNT. So lets not fool ourselves and think that foreign terrorists are A) going to be protected by the U.S. Constitution, or B) going to give us the same considerations. I know that people like Daniel Pearl deserved to be beheadded and have that video broadcast all over the world but... well, wait again- I dont think he did deserve that. Is it possible that we should use whatever it takes to make us safe? I dont care if these fools have their nuts strapped to a Honda generator so long as my family and my fellow countrymen are safe.

    If you think closing down any path towards a safer homeland is a wise idea then you deseerve whats coming to you.

    A fixed economy (if our idiot "president" can even manage that) will do nothing towards helping our country if theres no one left alive to spend it.

    We will be attacked again unless the "president" decides to enact Sharia law first.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  39. rbloom

    Townsend complains that the release of the memos "handcuffs future administrations." That's the point! Make sure the U.S. never engages in torture again!
    And by the way, handcuffs would be appropriate for the last administration, too. Real, non-metaphorical ones.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  40. T

    This isn't weakening us in any way. All individuals detained by America know they will be fed, clothed, given shelter, and be treated fairly. Harming the detainees has never been an option. Many in Iraq are treated better in prison than they are in their communities, and I take pride in that. Despite the ugliness of war, we can still keep our humanity, which is something some people are quick to shed when their emotions are running high.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  41. FGW

    Yes... the Republicans are always the bad guy's and you liberals will put us in our place.... party is over 🙁 By the way, better keep an eye on Clinton. I got the feeling she was talking "bullets&bombs" the other day for dealing with the pirates. ( who haven't killed anyone yet) Some of you posters above need to get with her and explain that these poor people are just misunderstood. They don't need the Marines... they just need huggs. So why don't you all head on over there and spread some cheer. It'll make the world a safer place.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  42. Michael

    If we as a people think that the methods contained in these memos are torture, we have lost the will to win. With the possible exception of waterboarding, which reasonable people can debate whether or not it is torture (I don't believe it is), the other methods do not even come close. I have had worse done to me during Escape and Evasion Training while an NROTC Midshipman. None of it was torture. We can keep putting our heads in the sand all the way up to when the first terrorist nuke gets set off. Then maybe we will come around. Unfortunately it will be too late for the few hundred thousand that will already be dead.

    April 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  43. Stevve

    If I thought one American life could be saved by waterboarding a known terrorist I would do it myself.

    Give ME the board and strap that butthead on.

    Sleep deprivation? Cramped quarters? Give me a break, sounds like parenthood in the lower economic class America.

    These idiotse getting treated better than the homeless in America for crying out loud. Certainly better health care.

    I really hope these aren't the most extreme or effective interrogation methods available to extract information from these people or they'll just be giggling their way through the whole process.


    April 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  44. Greg

    "Obama is doing you a favor and you don’t even know it." The man is doing himself a favor MORON. The Presidents chosen language rarely matches the day to day tinkerings of his Administration....he'll have these tactics used, we just won't know about it. Well they'll use tactics that aren't reveled yet...The real MORON and others don't understand will always confuse "objective" with "subjective"

    April 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  45. yeah

    i am very proud of obama for releasing these memos. he said he would bring transparency and he followed through with it. But thats not enough, we need to be prosecuting the officials who authorized torture. but it sure is nice seeing these criminals squirm!!!! We need to have deeper investigations and more Bush admin dirt released for all to see.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  46. nimrod

    RT in KC, I wish I had articulated my thoughts as effectively as you.

    Rickymo, saying that "the end doesn't justify the means" shows an incredible lack of historical perspective. During WWII the people we now are calling (justifiably I believe) the greatest generation fire-bombed Hamburg and Dresden in Germany, killing tens of thousands of civilians (a controversial tactic even then) and Tokyo in Japan, killing nearly 100,000, and then nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing tens of thousands more. All horrible means to achieve an admirable end. Looking back, if it were up to me, I would not change those decisions. They all resulted in incredible death tolls, but nothing compared to the numbers of deaths perpetrated by the countries on which they were inflicted.

    I personally think we have shown remarkable restraint in our dealings with our current enemies, and comparing the actions of ANY American administration with the events in Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, or with what Japan did in China just shows such gross historical ignorance as to be nearly unbelievable.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  47. Tim

    So, let me get this straight... they can cut off our heads, but we can't dunk their heads in water to prevent them from cutting off our heads and flying planes into our buildings? the liberal mind is a funny one...

    April 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  48. keeth

    She was not part of the process, so why do we care what she says? Her assertions are her opinions, not facts. The American people need to understand what Bush/Cheney did in our name. They legitimized torture, yet every competent intelligence officer will tell you that information gathered from torture is rarely credible. That's what got us into Iraq - the supposed info on Saddam's WMD program garnered from torturing a suspect. The info he gave was false, and said only to stop the torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  49. tony

    has anyone leaving these comments even read the memos? I guarantee you that far worse interrogation methods are being used on those dudes. face slaps and walling? come on, i laughed at those when i went to survival school. it doesnt take long to realize those techniques are lame even when youre the one theyre being used on. the guys at gitmo are hard core. this crap isnt going to work on them. theyre getting beat down, i can promise you that. peace in the middle east

    April 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  50. WiscownsinDon

    Torture will continue. This is Obama's way of covering his rear so that when the next incident pops up he can say "it's not my fault, I inherited this problem". Just like he does with everything else.

    The "torture" described hardly seem severe. For gosh sakes, waterboarding was probably the closest thing those dirtpiles ever got to a bath!

    April 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  51. Craig H

    I suppose we have two camps, those who want the US to torture people (German and Japanese were prosecuted after WW2 for torture while "following orders", oh, and the Japanese for waterboarding) and those who don't want the US to torture. These memos definitely come from the former group and bother the second. I have a question directed at the logic. If the methods were not intended to cause severe pain the why were we using them? The memo's premise doesn't make sense. If these methods are legal because they avoid causing severe pain why were we using them? I don't think they would satisfy the pro torture camp.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  52. max

    Am I the only one that realizes that you cannot win a War on Terror. This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. I'm tired of people in this country being afraid of terrorists, because causing fear or terror is exactly what their goal is. Terrorists will always be winning the war, because its not the body count that matters to them, is the amount of fear and chaos they instill.

    And btw Johnny DC idk how you can say this is a dark day. Stopping torture is a great thing.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  53. Tom in Tampa

    Hey Rickymo, do your values and principles include telling the truth like in comparing Bush to Nazi's? Typical liberal. You're happy Bush is gone. Are you also happy we haven't been attacked again?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  54. Kodewayne

    Also, in addition to my comment above....most of these individuals are suspected terrorists. Some may have not done anything at all, which completely invalidates your argument. Think before you poop out your mouth.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  55. Tony, FL

    So, how many of you would authorize the same if a close family member were held hostage and a held terrorist might know their location? Don't lie.

    How's that different that trying to prevent another 9/11?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  56. Nan

    I saw a comment about would we want our soldiers to face the same treatment!!!!!!!!!! Are you people blind!!!!!!!!!!!! These animals behead our people and do a whole lot worse. Maybe the only way you ignorant people will get it is if one of your loved ones is sent home without their head because it's hanging in one of their town squares.

    I wish no harm on anyone, but when it comes to my family's safety do what you have too to get the information to stop it.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  57. Robert

    HAHAHHAHAHAHA. I love the way the people in US is all scared to death. They see terrorists attacking old ladies everywhere. Look! A terrorist in your pocket! Look! Another one inside your closet! WE ARE NOT SAFE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! HAHAHAHAHAHA. Feeble minded freaks. Obama is doing the right thing by outing those Nazis.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  58. Kodewayne

    In response to Dustin's "genius" observation about "24"

    The worry I have, like most Republicans should worry about, is the fact that power hungry people crave more power, and if backed into a wall they will continue to support the status quo. If your so worried about our new socialist leader, you should also be worried about what happens if the government oversteps it's bounds and starts "interrogating" it's own citizens. You have to keep the government in check abroad, in case they decide to bring these methods upon the American people. Domestic spying is the start. What happens when there are domestic interrogations against innocent citizens?

    Isn't that one of the reasons we have the right to bear arms? So we can overthrow an overbearing self-government? Or why did we fight the revolutionary war? I thought it was because of the overbearing nature of Britain (Torture, taxes, repression) Governments without any checks or balances eventually turn on it's own.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  59. podo3500

    Dear John, people run to America for safety, protection, education and economic awareness. Openness is part of the wealth ,education and Democratic principles people have gained living in the USA. Releasing the Memo is for no political gain, it simply to show all true loving Americans that they were deceived by the Republicans and the Bush regimes. And to emphasise why America is having political and economic problems. If Investors run away from America, and tourist , its all because of the holistic and nonchalant attitudes of the Bush regime. Releasing the memos is the first step to restoring dignity and pride to the American people . Honour to its Military and respect to the country. These are some of the Changes Obama promised.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  60. Bobby

    What kind of "career professionals" torture their detainees. No matter how its done, its inhumane. Its despicable that people like Fran Townsend, with such idiocy, actually have the right to impose their biased, uneducated views to the public. People have to learn to accept the consequences of their actions and the operatives responsible for these heinous acts in no way deserve the title of a professional; they are an embarrassment to this country.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  61. will


    April 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  62. X

    i didn't say it but for some reason it comes to mind,

    ""Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."


    April 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  63. DUG

    Dan in Florida Wrote

    As a veteran, I was disgusted and scared for my fellow servicemembers when the Bush Administration so brazenly shunned the Geneva Convention. The GC was there to protect OUR people, too. I’m thankfully amazed that we haven’t heard stories of U.S. POW’s being treated hideously because of our precedent.

    I was in the military also. I am all for the Geneva Convention. However, the GC is for all military combatants. Opponents of a foreign land as well as are own troops. NOT groups of terrorists (READ BIN LADEN AND ASSOCIATES).

    I am thinking you must have missed the reports of the soldiers being strung up in Mogadishu or the contractors on the bridge in Iraq. Name one US POW being held right now? Thats right there aren't any we know of. They are all tortured severly (not pressesd against a wall) until they can't hold out any longer. What about Nick Berg?

    People you need to WAKE UP. There are bad people out there wanting to hurt you and your family and they will stop at nothing to accomplish it.

    Please go back and find Scott's post. He went through SERE training and his post explains that these methods don't hurt anyone. He's been through it himself.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  64. John the moderate, independent

    Just another pretty face Republican with an air head, a lying tongue, and stuck on the party line of bs (a la Palin). If she didn't participate in any thing involving the policy, I would have to conclude that our time was wasted listening to anything she has to say. Bush/Cheney didn't like what the other career Republican lawyers in the Justice Dept. told them about the legality of torture so they went with the few who would say what they wanted to hear. That was not a legal opinion, it was a political opinion by a lawyer. There is a huge difference. Goddamn all Bush/Cheney Republicans and their supporters for raping our Constitution, destroying our national morality, and driving us into national bankruptcy.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  65. Tyler

    how high are you liberals? especially you Brian. do you people honestly think that this is the first time we have used these kinds of interrogation methods on the enemy? you make bush to be a terrorist and a war criminal. you people are the height of idioicy. im sure right now that the terrorists are throwing down their arms and saying to each other how nice and open the united states is, lets live in peace. you people are delusional and need to understand that the world is not rainbows and lollipops. half the country, as demonstrated by your brain dead comments, need to come back to earth.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  66. will

    Torture is wrong. But all those who say that the president is doing this to right wrongs and everything, why has he kept the black sites open???? Where there is torture going on, probably more than what was going on in gitmo. I give the president the benefit of the doubt, but it seems wrong to say that torture is wrong and that the u.s. doesnt torture, yet still have these places open. Can anyone help me understand?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  67. smptexas

    "Transparency"??? What a scam word. The current office holders are using that term whenever it serves THEM.

    If they truly want "transparency", then why not show the world our latest, "secret", military / defense systems on tonight's newsbroadcasts? Why not give all foreign countries a list of our active spies??? I'll tell you why, because SOME THINGS JUST NEED TO BE KEPT QUIET !!! Can't some of you get that through your thick-heads?

    Some things, in order to maintain "national security", need to remain SILENT. Do you Utopians out there really think all other countries don't do the same things as we do during interrogations? Sure they do. But, somehow, Mr. Obama and his administration seem to feel it necessary to go on a world-wide apology tour. This just makes the U.S. look like the "bad guys" and it makes our country look weak because our President feels the need to say, "We're sorry..." to the world. (when the world is just as guilty, if not more, than we are when it comes to getting information from detainees / terrorist prisoners.)

    All you bleeding heart, bandwagoner, candlelight-vigil-holding-people said on Sept. 11th that, "WE WILL NEVER FORGET". My rear end you won't forget – YOU ALREADY HAVE. If it takes slapping an Al Qaeda terrorist detainee in the face to get info from him or putting him in a freakin' diaper to embarrass him in order to get info to help prevent the next Sept. 11th event, them I'm game. What's it gonna take for some of you people to wake up? Do we have to stop protecting ourselves by whatever means necessary when it is "kill or be killed"?

    You folks will be the very same people who will scream, "Why didn't our government do something to protects us?" as the army of some foreign country is marching down your street taking your house, family, liberty / freedom, etc. You won't think waterboarding, etc. was such a bad thing then! Go ahead, keep it up, just make sure you know how to speak many foreign languages so you can converse with the enemy when you beg for your life in front of them!

    Get real people! Wouldn't YOU perform these very acts of interrogation if you had a terrorist in your hands and you knew they had info. about an imminent attack on your family, city, state, country? If you say, "no I wouldn't" (1. that's a flat out lie and you know it. 2. I wouldn't want you on my street, state, etc. 3. then you are not worthy of living in the U.S. if you are not going to defend it.)

    The U.S. should be "transparent" only when we first get apologies from OTHER countries for beheading our citizens on TV. We should be transparent only when other countries apologize for dragging our dead soldiers through their streets. We should be transparent only when suicide bombers aplogize for blowing up their country's innocent people along with our troops / civilian workers. WHAT SAY YOU when you see / hear about that kind of crap going on against Americans??? Do you demand those countries / leaders go on a world-wide apology tour? Do you demand transparency on all their methods??? No.......................................

    I want all of y'all to throw away your pins, buttons, candles, and T-shirts that say "We will never forget" – because you have!!! Try being upset FOR ONCE, more at other countries and their actions than you are of the actions of the United States!

    ... Someone who hasn't forgotten the past AND CURRENT atrocities against the people of the U.S. around the world.

    P.S. – Don't forget to aplogize for our snipers shooting those young Somolian pirates! Afterall, those pirates probably had bad childhoods and we should understand why they want to kill Americans!!!

    April 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  68. Dennis

    There's nothing to write home about here. Fances Townsend is critical of the current administration's decision to come clean on a previous administrations policy - all without waiting an obligatory 50 years for the players to exit. Was the previous administration proud of this policy? Arguably yes, but only until the finding was made public. Enter shame, stage left. What to do – how to respond? Have CNN's John Roberts interview a Bush lacky that can both stand-up for the ill policy and still maintain plausible deniability. Enter Fances Townsend, stage right.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  69. Shaun

    Many countries have dark secrets, what truly defines the country is whether or not they will admit to those skeletons and take responsibility for them. The greatest example of this is Germany, who has not attempted to hide what happened. They have specifically chosen to admit to it, atone to it, and ensure that what happened will not be forgotten or repeated.

    The Bush Administration kept these techniques as a closely guarded secret. Some would argue that the methods are "classified" for a reason. Many of the techniques are as old as torture itself... most countries know the methods and some even have harsher ones. There is only one reason I can think of to maintain such secrecy... public outrage. I believe fear of outrage from the American public, from the worldwide community, and from the enemy itself... fear of being discovered prevented these memos from being released. The biggest fear is that these memos would be used as a recruitment tool by our enemies.

    In honesty I do not feel these techniques are necessary. I feel that our leaders chose to hide behind questionable legal documents, and that their respective decision to send prisoners to other countries demonstrates that they believed such measures were against our laws. My hope is that these memos are kept in the light, and that we as a nation vow not

    April 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  70. Jiggy in VA

    There is a very fine line between high moral grounds and downright stupidity

    April 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  71. John

    So imagine you're picked up fighting against America in Afghanistan and you are aware of a plot to detonate a dirty bomb in New York City in two days. The soldiers tell you that you are under arrest and that you will be flown to New York where you will be provided a lawyer and if convicted will be sent to prison in Kansas where you will have a 10×10 cell, cable television and 3 square meals a day. And then they ask "Are you aware of any threats to the United States?", you would say.....? Even John McCain, who said that torture doesn't work, had earlier admitted to being broken by torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  72. Mark


    You are lost. I watch '24' and I can tell you the real world is not like that. You live in a world deluded with twisted fantasy. I suggest you stop watching '24' if it's going to skew your perception of reality to that great a degree. It's unhealthy.

    Are you aware of how many detainees we have released after years of confinement without charges. Yes, your hero Bush even had to release them. TV is not life, and life is not TV.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  73. J. Abdelghani

    If this president and administration want transparency so much then why is he, and why are they, going to such great lengths to CONCEAL his birth certificate? The guy's own grandmother admitted he was born in Kenya and his mother didn't live in the USA long enough to qualify him for US citizenship. So this is a BIG question on his legitimacy as the US president. Why no transparency here? Seems pretty easy and basic if he didn't have something to hide. Oh, only HE gets to choose what should and shouldn't be transparent in our governmental system? What helps and protects him can be hidden, what hurts Americans and our country – blaze it across all channels!!!

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  74. Ken

    The people operating the Nazi death camps also has clear legal authority to do so. That was no excuse and didn't wash at the Nuremberg Trials. Nor is it enough to say "I was just following orders" in this case. If a government official or operative does not know right from wrong, they have no place working for and being an agent of the American people. To suggest that the release of this memo somehow endangers us is sheer nonsense and is just more the tired fear-mongering we came to expect during the long night of the Bush-Cheney years.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  75. Eric

    What happens to our soldiers who are tortured and eventually return home? We treat them like heroes do we not? Look at Sen. John McCain and Admiral James Bond Stockdale (Google it if you think it is a joke). We honor our vets who were put through unimaginable pain and suffering for a cause they fought for. To think that the people we torture will be viewed any different by people who think and feel like they do is crazy. The rest of the world knew the kinds of acts that we committed just by watching the news on a daily basis: the humiliating pictures taken at Abu Ghraib (probably the most damning evidence of all) and judges throwing out cases due to prisoners being tortured. These memos do nothing to decrease our security since the hatred existed already anyway. People that hate the US do not need released memos confirming what they already believe to be true. Religious zeal is virtually impossible to defeat, which is what this hatred seems to stem from. One cannot argue against another’s faith because each MUST believe that they are right. People who follow blind hatred cannot be reasoned with logically or factually. Even if these memos showed that our government abhorred torture and vowed never to use it as an interrogation technique, those that hate us would not all of the sudden change their beliefs that we are the infidels and welcome us with open arms. These same people who despise us so vehemently most likely believed that we committed these atrocities before we ever contemplated using them in the first place. These memos change nothing.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  76. Ben

    Those that are so scared of the enemy that they would condone torture to increase their own safety are cowards, plain and simple.

    Stand up for what is right, conquer your fears, act morally.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  77. Jiggy in VA

    These tactics were first called "torture" by Bush hating left media, and as the result created even more America haters. The argument that somehow Bush alone made more enemies by using this interrogation tactics is bogus – 9/11 was planned and conceived on Clinton watch – there were enough American haters before Bush even took office.
    Release of these documents has no purpose but as a political gain. High moral grounds will not stop next terror attacks – waterboarding Khalid might stop them! For all you Bush haters guess what ... you are still here, safe and sound 7 years later ... guess why – partially because those secret "torture" memos! Do you really think that US new course under OB helm will make those Clinton-era terror masterminds suddenly stop hating us? Disarming ourselves will not make us any safer!

    April 17, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  78. Mike

    More evidence of the weak leadership of BO. The ACLU had his head in a vise and he cracked. Talk about torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  79. Jonathan

    Hello, Air Force member here. You all need to get off your supposed moral high horse. This is nothing but politics against the Bush admin.

    Why has NO ONE answered the posts about our own military members going through worse experiences for training than these murdering thugs had to endure? Are you too cowardly to respond to that simple truth?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  80. Roger Hall

    Oh, WHAT a surprise. A Bush apologist using fear to try and hide the truth. Some things never change.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  81. Tubaman

    2,974 people died on 9/11. Count them. Call their names. Weep their loss.

    Not one terrorist died as a result of waterboarding. Not one terrorist was died as a result of an "insult slap." Not one terrorist died from insect boxes. Not one terrorist died from sleep deprivation. Not one terrorist died from stress positioning. Not one terrorist died from walling. But terrorists gave up their leaders and tactics.

    2,974 Americans died.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  82. Gary in NC

    Please divert your attention away from the White House and all the non-tax paying people running your government, LOOK IT'S A BUSH!!!!!

    April 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  83. Name

    USA must take the moral and ethical high ground. By doing so, the Arab and Islamic world may hopefully better police their own.

    While I disagree that all the techniques listed constitute torture and I do believe that we should retain the option to use some (so long as they are legal), after reading the memos, I was impressed that so much attention was given to prevent significant physical or mental harm. Nonetheless, I am proud our country has decided to come clean – it takes some of the fire out of the Islamist Extremist's rhetoric.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  84. Jim

    Why will disclosure of the memos handcuff future adminstrations? Couldn't a future administration simply follow the Bush II model?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  85. Gary in NC

    Angi in KC, the danger is intelligence people will be less prone to do anything because complete exposure of everything to the world will obviously happen. You obiously don't read english well.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  86. Dawn

    So her problem with it isn't so much just that people know what went on, but because it means future administrations can't use these techniques?

    Sure, these techniques probably led to a good few bits of information that wouldn't have been acquired otherwise. I bet they would have gotten even more information out of them had they shoved bamboo chutes under their fingernails, or burned them with cigars, or any number of other things that could be explained away in just the same way as waterboarding and the rest of it.

    I'm not even arguing that these people don't deserve it. They're terrorists, they deserve all sorts of torture! But we, as America, as a supposedly civilized and moral nation (that's the ideal we like to try to sell, anyway), it is not our place to torture people. Oh, but it's not torture unless we actually call it that. My bad. We can beat them with lead pipes, but as long as we're calling it Tickle Time, all is well.

    I'm still waiting to see how Obama is going to hold up, but so far I'm happy with the things he's doing. Our government is long overdue to be held accountable for their actions.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  87. DB

    It is funny, how the administration comes out and undisclose these memos and people start saying that he is making this country weaker. Are you kidding me? Everyone already knew about these torture techniques under the Bush administration. America has been weakend since we entered Iraq. Most of you are jus mad because we are taking a more moderate stance to the problems we face, but apparently the strong arming that we've been using has not helped at all, it has actually pushed our allies away.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  88. Philip Grant

    NUMBER 1
    Its amazing how it is the good old hard working, conservative, christian, right-to-life,middle-class, tea bag people who are the ones who support, or make excuses for torture, and then lying about it.
    NUMBER 2
    The president did not release the memos for political gain. The United States government was sued by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act for the relase of the documents.
    NUMBER 3 and most important
    John McCain and others like him were held as prisonors of war and were tortured themselves are against torture. They themselves said that all it did was make them lie. That they said "anything to stop the pain." What more reliable source do you need?

    And as he has done since he was sworn in, the president has gone right down the middle. He released the documents, which angered the right, but he refused the prosecute the CIA agents who carried out the torture, which angered the left. That's change you can believe in.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  89. John

    Paul J,

    You have not been through the training. You do not know the curriculum. You do not know how these techniques are practised by our interrogators.

    "Too funny to be believed"

    This is an ignorant comment from someone that does not know.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  90. Rick

    Anyone who does not think our Soldiers (and missionaries, and other kidnapped citizens) have been subjected to this type of behavior, has their head in the sand (see the movie 'Hanoi Hilton')

    What we do not know is HOW MANY AMERICAN SOLDIER S ABROAD & CIVILIANS ON OUR OWN SOIL have been saved by these techniques.

    Terrorist organizations are laughing all the way to the bank! Now they know, 'If I do not die for my cause, I am home-free, because American "interrigators" (which, oh by the way, they are not anymore) cannot lay a hand on me, cannot subject me to any uncomfortable behavior....I don't have to say a thing!' I dare the administration to revisit this after the next terrorist strike (because it WILL happen!) Try telling the widowed and left behind that our new "transparent" and yes, SUBMISSIVE government didn;t have the intelligence to thwart the attack because we could not coerce anyone into talking...

    Say what you will about the Bush administration, but there were not any more major strikes after 9/11; largely attributed to these techniques, I am sure.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  91. Jordan

    It seems a lot of people don't realize that these techniques are reserved for terrorists, for people who, if they could, would come into your home, torture the males. And by torture, i do not mean pin you against the wall and slap you in the face, or waterboard you, i mean tie you down, beat you, whip you, slice you open, and all sorts of other barbaric things. Then they simply kill you. Males are the lucky ones, women undergo all the same turture as men, but they get raped, and all sorts of horrible acts done to them, just for being women.

    Anyone who honestly thinks that these interrogation techniques should be illegal, or thinks they are "torture" when they are used to stop terrorists from doing those horrible things to free people of the world, is just plain ignorant.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  92. Ponder

    The darkness always hates the light. Bringing these documents into the light heals us all no matter what those in the dark might have to say about it.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  93. pike


    I wish 9/11 never happened, but it's Cheney who had NORAD control just for this day, Pentagon who held "Jumbo hitting WTC" excercise just this day and Bushes WTC security contract expiring just this day. When all these coincide 9/11 happens.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  94. Seattle

    Torture does not make us safer. Any intelligence officer will tell you that within 48 hours of being captured, all plans/strategies that the captured person knew will be changed.

    Increasing levels of torture weeks have a person has been captured gives you only useless information.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  95. Tom in Tampa

    One thing is obvious from reading these posts and will be obvious to our enemies who cut off heads on the internet. Our enemies are tougher than we are.

    You can brag with your nose in the air about your superior morals (we don't torture) while they cut off your head with a rusty knife.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  96. Kodewayne


    I ask all of you who do not believe this to be torture to come to my house and have these actions done to you in my basement. I'm fully aware this won't change your know why? Because you know you will go home at the end of this experiment. Now imagine being taken away at gun point from your family, shipped hundreds, if not thousands of miles away to another country, have these acts performed on you, then told to crap in a bucket for years, without the guarantee that you could live....let alone go home. The mental torture alone would devastate any American who wouldn't be able to go home and watch American Idol. Get out of your shell, appreciate other cultures, and imagine things from a third perspective. This is not a republican or democrat issue. It's a core issue established with our foundation of this country. Here's a virtual tea bag. Put it in your mouths.

    By the does this make us less safe. These torture methods have been reported for years. Any terrorist watching CNN has known of our techniques for months. Are you all that narrow minded?

    April 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  97. washdc

    Interesting debate and it makes me proud that as an American, we are able to have this discussion at all. Thomas, I agreed with your post and those similar to it. I can see why the former administration thought the use of those methods justified. And I can also see why Obama and his team ceased them and then publicized the memos. I also agree that some methods are useful and some are not (will get anyone to say anything). At the end of the day, I believe that mental and emotionally-engaging interrogations are going to provide the best results, though they take time and expertise. Law enforcement has been using these methods for years and they are tried and proven to work.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  98. Debbie

    Give me a break! Putting someone in a dark room without clothing IS NOT torture. Slapping someone across the face IS NOT torture. Feeding a liquid diet IS NOT torture.

    Ask Nick Berg's family about torture (he was the one beheaded in Iraq); ask the folks who have had fingers, ears, nose, or feet cut off; ask folks burned by hot irons, who have had their eyes gouged out, or electrical leads attached to their genitals. Ask people bound in positions that break their bones and permanently damage their limbs. Ask those beaten by whips and canes.

    THOSE EXAMPLES are torture. The U.S. DOES NOT torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  99. James Baker, Las Vegas, Nevada

    So, people still believe the ends justify the means. What matters to these warped former officials of our government is not whether a technique constituted torture, but whether it was effective in eliciting information. Under that criteria, why not just put the detainee's head in a vice and squeeze it until their eyes pop out if necessary, a technique occasionally used by American gangsters. There is no moral difference between these former US government officials and old gangsters like Anthony Spilotro. Disgusting.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  100. emveegee

    These techniques are hardly secret; they've been discussed in the media for quite some time. The memos don't "reveal" ANYthing that the bad actors don't already know about. You could learn as much about torture by watching an old episode of "24" or reading a textbook on psychological stress studies. And if you ask just about any police or military interrogation expert, they'll tell you that torture & abuse won't net you good intel. Shouting at someone or slapping them around only reinforces that you are their enemy, giving added incentive for them to clam up or lie to you. Torturing someone until they're a mess will just get them to say whatever they think you want to hear so you'll stop, whether it's true or BS - more often the latter. Putting the moral/ethical aspect aside for a moment (which the lawyers & pols who turned the U.S. into torturers should NEVER have done), torture & abuse simply don't produce credible intelligence. They are in fact counterproductive. So the Bush legal counsel & willing CIA underlings (remember how we felt about the Nuremberg defense when ex-Nazis tried it?) ceded any moral high ground & international standing we had ... in order to get bad intel. Yep, nice going.

    April 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
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