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A Political Charade (Update)

10:19 AM, May 13, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing named "What Went Wrong: Torture and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration." As you might guess from the title, the hearing is slated to be a decidedly one-side political charade, and not a serious discussion of the interrogations of senior al Qaeda terrorists.

The hearing will, undoubtedly, focus on the legal memos authored by the Bush administration's lawyers and say little about the intelligence learned from the interrogations of mass murderers such as 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. That is, the focus of the hearing will be on the Democratic Senators' political opposition, and not America's enemies.

Whatever one thinks of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and their efficacy, and there is legitimate room for debate, this hearing is unlikely to shed any light on what really happened. The Associated Press reports that Senator Whitehouse, who is chairing this political event, wants the hearing to "focus on legal issues that are not part of the intelligence inquiry."

But how can you discuss these controversial techniques without discussing the intelligence they were intended to solicit? These measures were not approved in an abstract vaccuum, but in the real world, in which this nation faced a substantial terrorist threat. And the hearing's chairman has decided it is not in his or his party's interest to talk about this real world menace.

The Justice Department's memos should not be the only memos declassified and discussed at hearings such as this. All, or as many as possible, of the intelligence memos dealing with these controversial techniques should be released as well.

Let us weigh all of the facts and evidence, not just the memos Senator Whitehouse finds politically convenient.


Senator Feinstein opened the hearing saying that the Senate Intelligence Committee will look into the techniques used, the intelligence generated, and other issues in a "months" long investigation. So, it is likely that this issue is not going away any time soon.

And Senator Feingold included a reply to Vice President Cheney in his own remarks. Feingold said that Cheney has "misled" the American public on the contents of the two memos Cheney has asked to be declassified and that the former VP says outline the valuable intelligence generated by the enhanced interrogation techniques. If that is the case, then why not declassify them?