It sounds like we could soon be getting a look at a few more of those Bush administration legal opinions justifying the use of water-boarding and other “harsh interrogation techniques” for use in the War on Terror.
Newsweek reports that the White House is moving to declassify and release three of those memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in May 2005. In doing so, President Obama is siding with his attorney general, Eric Holder, over the objections of current and former CIA officials, who argue the disclosure could compromise “sources and methods”. Ex CIA director Michael Hayden is said to be “furious” about the decision, and to have tried unsuccessfully to intervene directly with Obama officials.
The ACLU is suing, under the Freedom of Information Act, for release of the memos. Several were put out last month. It’s unclear exactly when the new ones will be released.
Newsweek also has fresh reporting on a related controversy. As we noted last week, a secret 2007 report compiled by the International Committee for the Red Cross, and revealed last week by the New York Review of Books, contains accounts of CIA officers using extremely harsh techniques on three high-value al Qeada targets, including Khaled Shaik Mohammed, at secret CIA prisons.
In response to the NYRB story, Dianne Feinstein, the California senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, told Newsweek: “I now know we were not fully and completely briefed on the CIA program.” A federal official responded that Feinstein and other lawmakers had seen the ICRC report. But according to Newsweek, it was given a higher than top-secret classification, meaning it couldn’t be discussed publicly.