The WSJ is reporting that President Obama is leaning toward the CIA position on releasing the torture memos, which would mean that they would be heavily redacted.
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.
The argument that the agency's credibility could be any more damaged either at home or with foreign intelligence services is laughable. The essential contents of these memos is well known--as is the result. The leaked ICRC report provided that in stark, and intensely damaging detail.
The damage that could be done by not making the memos public would likely far outweigh the confirmation they provide that the U.S. tortured. I'm not in the habit of quoting Andrew Sullivan, but on this, he's spot on:
If Obama, for some reason, decides to prevent us from seeing exactly what was done then he will achieve only one thing: he will tell the world that the US has indeed authorized and practised war crimes while simultaneously telling the world that America will not be accountable for it....
National security interests would only be damaged if the US were seen to be continuing the cover-up of war crimes begun by Bush and Cheney. If CIA staffers believe that covering up war crimes is integral to maintaining their morale, then we need new CIA staffers. This is not about persecuting the CIA. It is about maintaining basic political accountability for decisions and policies that were illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.
There is no compromise possible here, Mr president. Do the right thing.