DNI Blair Suggests the Bush Interrogation Policies Worked

By Lee Speigel

Apr 21, 2009 10:08pm

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is so sure the interrogation policies advocated by him and former President Bush, and discontinued by President Obama, were the right ones, he’s taken the unusual step (for him) of seeking to de-classify memos that he says will prove his argument.

"I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country," Cheney said.

The former Vice President put in a request on March 31 with the National Archives to have some of these memos released. The National Archives passed on the request to the CIA yesterday afternoon.

But, as first reported by the New York Times’ Peter Baker Tuesday night, President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, former Admiral Dennis Blair, wrote a memo to his staff last week in which he said the methods, some of which are said to be torture by legal and human rights groups, were effective.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country," Blair wrote.

Added Blair: “I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

In a statement put out by Blair’s office last night, Blair said that: "I recommended to the president that the administration release these memos" — written by the Bush administration providing legal justification for harsh interrogation methods — "and I made clear that the CIA should not be punished for carrying out legal orders."

Blair said that he "also strongly supported the president when he declared that we would no longer use enhanced interrogation techniques. We do not need these techniques to keep America safe.

"The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security," Blair concluded.

- jpt

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