Obama’s Inner GOP March 1, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Nuclear weapons/power, Peace, War.
Tags: democrats, george mitchel, helen thomas, hillary clinton, Iran, iran nuclear, netanyahu, Palestinians, peace, president, roger hollander, settlements, war
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(Roger’s note: As usual, Helen Thomas is spot on, a fresh and, unfortunately, rare voice of reason amidst the cacophony of mainstream media servility. By holding Obama responsible for Clinton’s hawkishness she underscores the principle I have been citing lately as reflected in Harry Truman’s legendary, “the buck stops here.” When it comes to military spending and war, the Democrats and the Republicans are virtually indistinguishable. Ironically, it was a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously warned us about the military-industrial complex. And perhaps beyond ironic that the war-mongering president in office today is the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.)
Obama’s Inner GOP
by Helen Thomas
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding her voice in the world of foreign affairs — and it’s the sound of hawk-speak, filled with warnings.
She has warned that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship. She is trying to persuade U.S. allies to support stronger sanctions against Tehran.
There’s no sign that the U.S. is about to invade Iran but there’s tons of speculation that the Pentagon has been tasked to figure out what bunker-buster bombs would do to Iran’s underground nuclear industry and whether such an attack would help or hinder efforts to neutralize Iran as a nuclear threat.
While a massive bombing would certainly delay Iran’s nuclear development, it would not stop it. The cost of such a military option would be grave: Iran’s hard-liners would be fortified politically; and anti-American terrorists everywhere would see such an attack as justifying their own violence.
There’s not much doubt that Iran is heading toward nuclear weapons. Iran’s neighbors have those terrible devices and so the Iranians ask: Why not us, too?
Clinton was tough on the Palestinians during her tour in the region. She said the Palestinians have to make more “concessions” to the occupier to get peace talks going.
The word peace has not been exalted in the White House for years and neither President Barack Obama nor his secretary of state seems to aspire to it. They fret that some critic somewhere will accuse the administration of being “soft.”
Democrats continue to labor to prove they are tough, tough, tough, so that they don’t have to deal with a modern version of the old “Who lost China?” rant.
The rhetoric from the Obama administration is framed in terms of “winning” and “victory” while a war-weary nation searches for an end to the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for nine years and is gaining new momentum in the form of thousands of additional American troops being sent there.
On the Israeli-Palestinian front, former Sen. George Mitchell has been shuttling back and forth with not much success in trying to bring leaders from both sides to the peace table. Obama was not much help in breaking the stalemate when he buckled to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to impose a total freeze on settlement building. Instead, the Israeli leader offered a 10-month halt in expanding settlements. Such settlements are illegal under international law.
Unlike his domestic proposals where the President faces so much Republican opposition, Obama is in sync with the GOP in treading along the belligerent footsteps of his predecessor.
His hawkish secretary of state takes her cues from the boss.
© 2010 Albany Times-Union
Answering Helen Thomas on Why They Want to Harm Us January 9, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War on Terror.
Tags: 9/11 commission, Abdulmutallab, al-balawi, anti-americanism, cia, civilian casualties, corporate media, counter terrorism, extremists, foreign policy, gaza, helen thomas, Homeland Security, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, israel, israel lobby, janet napolitano, john brennan, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, lee hamilton, Media, michael scheuer, Middle East, muslim, Palestinians, ray mcgovern, roger hollander, suicide attack, suicide bomb, suicide bomber, terrorism, war on terror
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Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day.
After Obama briefly addressed L’Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas to break through the vapid remarks about channeling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners.
Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.
She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.
Thomas: “Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”
Brennan: “Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents… They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”
Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”
Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”
Brennan: “I think this is a – long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda continues to pervert a religion and entice and exploit impressionable young men.
There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.
I had been hoping Obama would say something intelligent about what drove Abdulmutallab to do what he did, but the President limited himself to a few vacuous comments before sending in the clowns. This is what he said before he walked away from the podium:
“It is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations … to do their bidding. … And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death … while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. … That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.”
But why it is so hard for Muslims to “get” that message? Why can’t they end their preoccupation with dodging U.S. missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Gaza long enough to reflect on how we are only trying to save them from terrorists while simultaneously demonstrating our commitment to “justice and progress”?
Does a smart fellow like Obama expect us to believe that all we need to do is “communicate clearly to Muslims” that it is al Qaeda, not the U.S. and its allies, that brings “misery and death”? Does any informed person not know that the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million from their homes? How is that for “misery and death”?
Rather than a failure to communicate, U.S. officials are trying to rewrite recent history, which seems to be much easier to accomplish with the Washington press corps and large segments of the American population than with the Muslim world.
But why isn’t there a frank discussion by America’s leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive?
Peeking Behind the Screen
We witnessed a similar phenomenon when the 9/11 Commission Report tiptoed into a cautious discussion of possible motives behind the 9/11 attacks. To their credit, the drafters of that report apparently went as far as their masters would allow, in gingerly introducing a major elephant into the room:
“America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.” (p. 376)
When asked later about the flabby way that last sentence ended, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, explained that there had been a Donnybrook over whether that paragraph could be included at all.
The drafters also squeezed in the reason given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as to why he “masterminded” the attacks on 9/11:
“By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed … from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
Would you believe that former Vice President Dick Cheney also has pointed to U.S. support for Israel as one of the “true sources of resentment”? This unique piece of honesty crept into his speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21, 2009.
Sure, he also trotted out the bromide that the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world.” But the Israel factor did slip into the speech, perhaps an inadvertent acknowledgement of the Israeli albatross adorning the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Very few pundits and academicians are willing to allude to this reality, presumably out of fear for their future career prospects.
Former senior CIA officer Paul Pillar, now a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few willing to refer, in his typically understated way, to “all the other things … including policies and practices that affect the likelihood that people … will be radicalized, and will try to act out the anger against us.” One has to fill in the blanks regarding what those “other things” are.
But no worries. Secretary Napolitano has a fix for this unmentionable conundrum. It’s called “counter-radicalization,” which she describes thusly:
“How do we identify someone before they become radicalized to the point where they’re ready to blow themselves up with others on a plane? And how do we communicate better American values and so forth … around the globe?”
Better communication. That’s the ticket.
Hypocrisy and Double Talk
But Napolitano doesn’t acknowledge the underlying problem, which is that many Muslims have watched Washington’s behavior closely for many years and view pious U.S. declarations about peace, justice, democracy and human rights as infuriating examples of hypocrisy and double talk.
So, Washington’s sanitized discussion about motives for terrorism seems more intended for the U.S. domestic audience than the Muslim world.
After all, people in the Middle East already know how Palestinians have been mistreated for decades; how Washington has propped up Arab dictatorships; how Muslims have been locked away at Guantanamo without charges; how the U.S. military has killed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere; how U.S. mercenaries have escaped punishment for slaughtering innocents.
The purpose of U.S. “public diplomacy” appears more designed to shield Americans from this unpleasant reality, offering instead feel-good palliatives about the beneficence of U.S. actions. Most American journalists and politicians go along with the charade out of fear that otherwise they would be accused of lacking patriotism or sympathizing with “the enemy.”
Commentators who are neither naïve nor afraid are simply shut out of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM). Salon.com’s Glen Greenwald, for example, has complained loudly about “how our blind, endless enabling of Israeli actions fuels terrorism directed at the U.S.,” and how it is taboo to point this out.
Greenwald recently called attention to a little-noticed Associated Press report on the possible motives of the 23-year-old Nigerian Abdulmutallab. The report quoted his Yemeni friends to the effect that the he was “not overtly extremist.” But they noted that he was open about his sympathies toward the Palestinians and his anger over Israel’s actions in Gaza. (Emphasis added)
Former CIA specialist on al Qaeda, Michael Scheuer, has been still more outspoken on what he sees as Israel’s tying down the American Gulliver in the Middle East. Speaking Monday on C-SPAN, he complained bitterly that any debate on the issue of American support for Israel and its effects is normally squelched.
Scheuer added that the Israel Lobby had just succeeded in getting him removed from his job at the Jamestown Foundation think tank for saying that Obama was “doing what I call the Tel Aviv Two-Step.”
More to the point, Scheuer asserted:
“For anyone to say that our support for Israel doesn’t hurt us in the Muslim world … is to just defy reality.”
Beyond loss of work, those who speak out can expect ugly accusations. The Israeli media network Arutz Sheva, which is considered the voice of the settler movement, weighed in strongly, branding Scheuer’s C-SPAN remarks “blatantly anti-Semitic.”
As for media squelching, I continue to be amazed at how otherwise informed folks express total surprise when I refer them to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s statement about his motivation for attacking the United States, as cited on page 147 of the 9/11 Commission Report. Here is the full sentence (shortened above):
“By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
One can understand how even those following such things closely can get confused. On Aug. 30, 2009, five years after the 9/11 Commission Report was released, readers of the neoconservative Washington Post were given a diametrically different view, based on what the Post called “an intelligence summary:”
“KSM’s limited and negative experience in the United States – which included a brief jail-stay because of unpaid bills – almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist … He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country.”
Apparently, the Post found this revisionist version politically more convenient, in that it obscured Mohammed’s other explanation implicating “U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” It’s much more comforting to view KSM as a disgruntled visitor who nursed his personal grievances into justification for mass murder.
An unusually candid view of the dangers accruing from the U.S. identification with Israel’s policies appeared five years ago in an unclassified study published by the Pentagon-appointed U.S. Defense Science Board on Sept. 23, 2004. Contradicting President George W. Bush, the board stated:
“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.
“Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”
Getting back to Abdulmutallab and his motive in trying to blow up the airliner, how was this individual without prior terrorist affiliations suddenly transformed into an international terrorist ready to die while killing innocents?
If, as John Brennan seems to suggest, al Qaeda terrorists are hard-wired at birth for the “wanton slaughter of innocents,” how are they also able to jump-start a privileged 23-year old Nigerian, inculcate in him the acquired characteristics of a terrorist, and persuade him to do the bidding of al Qaeda/Persian Gulf?
As indicated above, the young Nigerian seems to have had particular trouble with Israel’s wanton slaughter of more than a thousand civilians in Gaza a year ago, a brutal campaign that was defended in Washington as justifiable self-defense.
Moreover, it appears that Abdulmutallab is not the only anti-American “terrorist” so motivated. When the Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda announced that they were uniting into “al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula,” their combined rhetoric railed against the Israeli attack on Gaza.
And on Dec. 30, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, a 32-year-old Palestinian-born Jordanian physician, killed seven American CIA operatives and one Jordanian intelligence officer near Khost, Afghanistan, when he detonated a suicide bomb.
Though most U.S. media stories treated al-Balawi as a fanatical double agent driven by irrational hatreds, other motivations could be gleaned by carefully reading articles about his personal history.
Al-Balawi’s mother told Agence France-Presse that her son had never been an “extremist.” Al-Balawi’s widow, Defne Bayrak, made a similar statement to Newsweek. In a New York Times article, al-Balawi’s brother was quoted as describing him as a “very good brother” and a “brilliant doctor.”
So what led al-Balawi to take his own life in order to kill U.S. and Jordanian intelligence operatives?
Al-Balawi’s widow said her husband “started to change” after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. His brother said al-Balawi “changed” during last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. (Emphasis added)
When al-Balawi volunteered with a medical organization to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, he was arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said.
It was after that arrest that the Jordanian intelligence service apparently coerced or “recruited” al-Balawi to become a spy who would penetrate al Qaeda’s hierarchy and provide actionable intelligence to the CIA.
“If you catch a cat and put it in a corner, she will jump on you,” the brother said in explaining why al-Balawi would turn to suicide attack.
“My husband was anti-American; so am I,” his widow told Newsweek. Her two little girls would grow up fatherless, but she had no regrets.
Are we starting to get the picture of what the United States is up against in the Muslim world?
Does Helen Thomas deserve an adult answer to her question about motive? Has President Obama been able to assimilate all this?
Or is the U.S. political/media establishment incapable of confronting this reality and/or taking meaningful action to alleviate the underlying causes of the violence?
Is the reported reaction of a CIA official to al-Balawi’s attack the appropriate one: “Last week’s attack will be avenged. Some very bad people will eventually have a very bad day.”
Revenge has not always turned out very well in the past.
Does anyone remember the brutal killing of four Blackwater contractors on March 31, 2004, when they took a bad turn and ended up in the wrong neighborhood of the Iraqi city of Fallujah – and how U.S. forces virtually leveled that large city in retribution after George W. Bush won his second term the following November?
If you read only the Fawning Corporate Media, you would blissfully think that the killing of the four Blackwater operatives was the work of fanatical animals who got – along with their neighbors – the reprisal they deserved. You wouldn’t know that the killings represented the second turn in that specific cycle of violence.
On March 22, 2004, Israeli forces assassinated the then-spiritual leader of Hamas in Gaza, Sheikh Yassin – a withering old man, blind and confined to a wheelchair. (Emphasis added)
That murder, plus sloppy navigation by the Blackwater men, set the stage for the next set of brutalities. The Blackwater operatives were killed by a group that described itself as the “Sheikh Yassin Revenge Brigade.”
Pamphlets and posters were all over the scene of the attack; one of the trucks that pulled around body parts of the mercenaries had a large poster photo of Yassin in its window, as did store fronts all over Fallujah.
We can wish Janet Napolitano luck with her “counter-radicalization” project and President Obama with his effort to “communicate clearly to Muslims,” but there will be no diminution in the endless cycles of violence unless legitimate grievances are addressed on all sides.
It would certainly also help if the American people were finally let in on the root causes for what otherwise gets portrayed as unprovoked savagery by Muslims.
This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com.
Obama Ignores Torture July 28, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Torture.
Tags: Abu Ghraib, bagram, black sites, cia interrogation, enhanced interrogation, geneva conventions, George Bush, Guantanamo, helen thomas, nuremberg, Obama, rendition, roger hollander, torture, waterboarding, william pitt
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It made the administration look more humane than the Bush-Cheney team. But that is not the whole story.
Obama left unaddressed the possibility of torture in secret foreign prisons under our control as in Abu Ghraib in Iraq or Bagram in Afghanistan, not to mention the ‘black sites” sponsored by our foreign clients in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Thailand and other countries.
“The United States will not torture,” Obama said in his directive. But he has been silent on the question of whether the U.S. would help others do the torturing.
Members of Congress knew a lot about U.S. torture practices. But Republicans loyal to the Bush administration and Democrats, too, played along and kept silent at the horror of it all.
Why did no bells ring for the U.S. lawmakers — particularly those privy to the brutality — when briefed on the abusive treatment of the captives. Did they owe more allegiance to the CIA than to the honor of our country?
There are hair-raising reports of methods that Americans — including private contractors — have used to coerce information from our prisoners.
They include slamming a prisoner against a wall; denying him sleep and food; waterboarding him under so-called enhanced interrogation; and keeping him in a crate filled with insects.
I remember when President Ronald Reagan, marveling at the courage of American soldiers, used to say: “Where do we get such men?” And I have to ask: “Where did we get such people who would inflict so much pain and ruthlessness on others?”
William Rivers Pitt, a best-selling author who wrote “The Greatest Sedition is Silence,” recently raised the emotional question of whether U.S. adoption of torture has debased the international standards for treatment of prisoners and that our enemies may now feel that they can torture Americans. Pitt specifically expressed concern about Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan last month.
American military leaders had warned President Bush over and over that U.S. torture of prisoners could boomerang against our troops. But he would not listen.
Obama has blocked publication of pictures of the harsh treatment of prisoners from our two ongoing wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — but the word still gets around.
© 2009 Hearst Newspapers
Will Obama Block Release of Key Bush-Era Torture Memos? April 15, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Torture.
Tags: aclu, al-Qaeda, bagram, bradbury memos, cia interrogations, cia prisons, congress, constitution, constitutional law, Dennis Blair, detainee treatment, doj, enhanced interrogation, eric holder, executive secrecy, extraordinary rendition, geneva conventions, glenn greenwald, greg craig, habaes corpus, helen thomas, human rights, International law, jay bybee, jeremy scahill, john brennan, justice department, leon paneta, robert gibs, roger hollander, simulated drowning, special prosecutor, states secrets, stephen bradbury, torture, torture memos, waterboarding
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Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 by RebelReports
The “Bradbury” memos outline CIA ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques and provided legal cover for US torture. Obama needs to stop protecting the Bush administration and release the memos—uncensored and unredacted.
Meanwhile, the White House is continuing to defend its use of the US prison at Bagram in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs was confronted about this by the great Helen Thomas:
Q Why is the President blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been there —
MR. GIBBS: You’re incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.
Q — for many years with no due process.
MR. GIBBS: Well, there are several issues relating to that that have to do differently than in some places than others, particularly because you have detainees in an active theater of war. There’s a review that’s pending of court cases and decisions, and we want to ensure — we want to ensure protection and security of the American people as well as rights that might be afforded.
Q Are you saying these people in prison are a threat to us?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that part of that is the determination based on our detainee policy that the President announced on the 21st of January, that that’s part of that review, yes.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that “The Obama administration is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations, despite a push by some top officials to make the information public.” The 2005 “Bradbury memos represent an effort by the Bush administration to keep the CIA program of ‘enhanced’ interrogations of certain detainees on a legal footing after the Bush administration in late 2004 withdrew earlier Justice Department memos on interrogation.”
The ACLU, which is suing the Justice Department for the release of the three memos, which were authored by Steven Bradbury, acting head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2005 to 2009, as such:
The memos reportedly provided legal justification for the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation methods that amounted to torture. And they also reportedly provided legal cover for the CIA’s interrogation methods in anticipation of Congress’s expected effort to outlaw “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,” which it did in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, passed several months after Bradbury issued the memos.
According to the WSJ:
Among the details in the still-classified memos is approval for a technique in which a prisoner’s head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos. Another approved tactic was waterboarding, or simulated drowning.
A decision to keep secret key parts of the three 2005 memos outlining legal guidance on CIA interrogations would anger some Obama supporters who have pushed him to unveil now-abandoned Bush-era tactics. It would also go against the views of Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig, people familiar with the matter said.
Top CIA officials have spoken out strongly against a full release, saying it would undermine the agency’s credibility with foreign intelligence services and hurt the agency’s work force, people involved in the discussions said. However, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair favors releasing the information, current and former senior administration officials said.
Human-rights groups and many in the administration have called the techniques torture.
On Thursday, the Obama administration faces a deadline in the suit brought by the ACLU, which originally asked for the public release of the 2005 Bradbury memos. The WSJ paints a picture of the Justice Department on one side, arguing for greater disclosure and the CIA on the other, arguing against release of the documents. “In the middle,” the paper says, “is deputy national-security adviser John Brennan, a former CIA official, who has generally sided with the CIA.”
Remember, this is the John Brennan who was described by Greenwald as as “an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.” It is also the Brennan who described the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program as an absolutely vital tool. Here is the CIA’s case to Obama in a nutshell:
“Intelligence officials also believe that making the techniques [described in the Bradbury memos] public would give al Qaeda a propaganda tool just as the administration is stepping up its fight against the terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some former administration officials have also argued that releasing all the memos could help terrorists train to endure the most extreme interrogation techniques.”
On the other side is the Justice Department, which has been at the frontline in Obama’s use of state secrets. But, according to the WSJ, in this case it has “argued aggressively for releasing operational details. Justice Department lawyers argue that the agency shouldn’t be in a position of defending practices the new administration has disavowed. They say releasing the documents would help fulfill the president’s promise of greater transparency.” The paper indicates that it is possible the Obama administration will release some skeletal details of the memos without fully disclosing the contents, which seems to be the position of CIA director Leon Panetta.
On April 2, the original deadline to release the memos, the Justice Department asked for a two week delay to decide whether to release the memos. The ACLU “reluctantly consented” in return for the administration agreeing to review releasing “another key memo, authored by Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General for the OLC from November 2001 to March 2003. (Bybee is now a federal appeals court judge for the 9th Circuit, and the subject of an ethics probe by the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility.) The Bybee memo, like the Bradbury memos, is critical to understanding the foundations of President Bush’s torture program.”
The ACLU notes:
As important as these memos are, they will likely not tell the full story of the treatment of detainees in secret CIA prisons and elsewhere. That is why it’s crucial that Congress appoint a select committee with subpoena power and the necessary resources to fully investigate Bush administration abuses. And that is why the Justice Department should appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the abuses and, if the facts warrant, initiate prosecutions. In order for us to begin fixing the damage done to this country by the last administration, Congress must fully investigate what took place and show the American public that nobody is above the law by holding those responsible accountable for their actions.