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Politicizing Intelligence, Obama-style (cont'd)

10:30 AM, Apr 21, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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This is rather extraordinary.

The Obama administration -- the self-declared most transparent administration in history -- has released interrogation memos that included descriptions of the valuable intelligence obtained by using coercive techniques. But while Obama advisers thought it appropriate to share detailed descriptions of those techniques with the world -- and with the terrorists who might one day be subject to them -- these same advisers blocked the release of the information these interrogations provided. They weren't subtle. All of this information came in the same set of documents.

"But just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out. The Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders but pulled out its black marker when it came to the details of what those interrogations achieved."

Barack Obama has made two mistakes: 1) such blatant politicizing of intelligence, and, 2) thinking he can get away with it.

This is Obama's arrogance at its worst. The president and his advisers seem to think that because the world loves him -- and because he remains popular here at home, too -- his decisions will escape serious scrutiny.

This should be the end of the Obama honeymoon. The country has debated the politicization of intelligence for the last seven years. In that time, we have probably never seen such a clear example of that phenomenon. And though most reporters would surely agree with Obama on enhanced interrogation, they cannot give him a pass on this. It should be a very, very uncomfortable day for Robert Gibbs today.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has formally requested that information from the interrogations be declassified. Early signs from the Obama administration indicate that they will be unlikely to do this. Why? That's unclear. But Obama officials don't think they have to worry. Why? Obama is really, really popular.

This comes from Mike Allen's must-read Playbook this morning:

Cheney made the request in late March, while researching his memoirs. The CIA has not yet replied, but that's not surprising given the complexity of the request. In coming days, Cheney can be expected to argue that the Obama administration's publication of other files last week is a precedent for release of the memos he wants. Cheney contends that the information he seeks does not pose a threat to anyone, nor to intelligence sources and methods. Obama supporters say privately that Cheney would be better off lying low for awhile - that he's not going to win a fight with one of the most popular people in the world.

What is the Obama administration's substantive response to Cheney's request?

The president might refer back to a memo he wrote on January 21, 2009, the day after he was sworn in. Obama pledged to run an open government, one that favors transparency as its guiding principle. He wrote that "executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public."

After all: "The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears."

Good point.