WASHINGTON, April 19, 2009 — -- The White House today found itself facing a barrage of criticism over releasing the so-called torture memos.
Republican lawmakers took to the airwaves on the Sunday talk shows to argue the president's release of Justice Department memos detailing the Bush administration's internal discussions of harsh interrogation tactics has made America less safe.
Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, told ABC News, "The release of these memos is dangerous."
Former GOP Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, speaking on Fox News, called it "grotesquely irresponsible."
It wasn't just the usual suspects opposing President Obama's disclosure of Justice Department memos about harsh interrogations. Four former CIA directors said it could make it harder for intelligence agents to battle terrorists in the future.
"You will have agency officers stepping back from the kinds of things that the nation expects them to do," former CIA director Gen. Mike Hayden told Fox News.
Hayden said fully half the information the government has about al Qaeda came from these interrogations.
Even the president's current CIA director, Leon Panetta, opposed releasing the memos.
To battle the barrage, the White House sent two of its top voices to argue the president is not giving al Qaeda any new information.
"One of the reasons the president was willing to let this information out was that already the information was out," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" today. "Go get the New York Review of Books. It's there."
Administration officials argue that from Turkey, where the president stopped last week, to Trinidad, where he spoke today, the president's decision to end harsh interrogation tactics has restored American prestige.
"The president has banned these enhanced interrogation techniques," Obama aide David Axelrod told CBS. "We have turned the page on this episode in our history."
Administration officials insist this is not a debate between American values and American security, saying tactics like waterboarding are illegal and don't work.