Aug 25th, 2009
In April, Vice President Cheney received extensive media coverage when he called on the Obama administration to release two CIA memos allegedly showing evidence that the Bush-era interrogation policies saved lives. His request came in response to critics who lambasted the Bush administration’s program and said it actually hurt U.S. efforts. From Cheney’s interview with Sean Hannity on April 20:
HANNITY: And secondly, why is it important that those interrogations took place? I mean, the ones they were talking about were sleep deprivation, waterboarding, putting insects into small, confined areas and telling them they were deadly insects. [...]
CHENEY: It worked. It’s been enormously valuable in terms of saving lives, preventing another mass casualty attack against the United States. … And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.
Yesterday, the CIA released two of those memos from 2004 and 2005, which had been secret until now. As Spencer Ackerman notes, these memos do nothing to back up Cheney’s claims:
Strikingly, they provide little evidence for Cheney’s claims that the “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA provided valuable information. In fact, throughout both documents, many passages — though several are incomplete and circumstantial, actually suggest the opposite of Cheney’s contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations. ...