Newsweek's Isikoff and Hosenball are reporting that Holder will release more torture memos:
Over objections from the U.S. intelligence community, the White House is moving to declassify—and publicly release—three internal memos that will lay out, for the first time, details of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration for use against "high value" Qaeda detainees. The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in May 2005, provide the legal rationale for waterboarding, head slapping and other rough tactics used by the CIA. One senior Obama official, who like others interviewed for this story requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said the memos were "ugly" and could embarrass the CIA. Other officials predicted they would fuel demands for a "truth commission" on torture.
Because of an executive order signed by President Obama on Jan. 22 banning such aggressive tactics, deputies to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. concluded there was no longer any reason to keep the interrogation memos classified. But current and former intel officials pushed back, arguing that any public release might still compromise "sources and methods." According to the administration official, ex-CIA director Michael Hayden was "furious" about the prospect of disclosure and tried to intervene directly with Obama officials. But the White House has sided with Holder.
That's Hayden (as representative of pretty much all of Cheney/BushCo) for you: squeamish about the public knowing that "ugly" things were done in our name, but not at all perturbed by the actual ugliness.
These memos are actually pretty late in the game--May, 2005. We knew that those "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, had happened at that point. The Abu Ghraib story had broken and the existence of the Bybee memos was public, though their contents were not (remember, this was a key issue in Gonzales's confirmation hearings, and he was forced to "renounce" the Bybee memos). They are, presumably, the three Bradbury memos discussed in this TPMMuckraker story.
And, apparently, they are another attempt to retroactively provide legal cover for the torture that we now know, from the leaked ICRC report, happened well before even the Yoo memos making torture "legal" were written. (Note: emptywheel has an invaluable timeline here.)
It's hard to imagine this could be uglier, but if Hayden and the rest of the intelligence community are that worked up over it, prepare for the worst.
Here's something else to think about. Comey and Ashcroft and mnay other Justice Department lawyers knew about these memos, knew that torture had been authorized and planned at the highest levels of government--a group that included Ashcroft. They were cool with torture, to a degree. So what was it about the warrantless wiretapping program that was so extreme to lead to the famous hospital room showdown? To Comey's, and other DOJ lawyers, resignation threats? What was the Cheney/Yoo/Addington/Bradbury/Gonzales team either doing or planning to do on wiretapping that was worse, in these people's minds, than torture?
We need to know. If the release of these memos provides even greater impetus for a torture truth commission, so much the better. But torture isn't the only issue that needs to be investigated.