Ex-Bush aides: Releasing torture memos is dangerous

Now the terrorists will know how we'll torture them, the theory goes. Except the torture is supposed to be finished.

Published April 16, 2009 9:21PM (EDT)

It didn't take long for former aides to George W. Bush to figure out a response to the Obama administration's decision to release memos on how Bush's administration handled torture: say it's dangerous.

One Republican operative told Salon today that Bush aides were blasting the decision for giving too much information to terrorists. And former CIA director Michael Hayden was on MSNBC earlier saying exactly that. "On balance, the release of the memos harms American security," he told the network.

The theory appears to be that now that accused terrorists will know what the CIA might do to them in captivity, they'll know how to resist torture. (Or rather, since the memos make clear that the techniques described in them -- including "insult slaps," "the waterboard," and "insects placed in a confinement box" -- were completely legal, how to resist non-torture.) That completely misses the point; President Obama ordered an end to the torture -- sorry, "enhanced interrogation" -- two days after taking office. If the CIA isn't going to be allowed to put insects into boxes with people anymore, it shouldn't have any effect at all on national security to disclose that they once did that.

Of course, they may be missing the point on purpose. Just like when former Vice President Dick Cheney crawled out of his retirement bunker to say Obama was going to get us all killed, arguing about putting the torture memos out might have less to do with persuading people and more to do with scaring them. Which is ironic. Because the memos themselves are plenty scary enough on their own.

Watch Hayden's criticism below:

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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