Source: Cheney hasn't asked CIA to release memos

A senior U.S. intelligence official tells Salon the former Vice President has not requested that the agency declassify memos about interrogation techniques.

Published April 21, 2009 7:20PM (EDT)

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized President Obama's decision to release memos laying out the Bush administration's legal justifications for CIA interrogation methods, saying he'd asked the CIA to release other memos that show the positive results of the program. It's now an open question as to whether he really did ask the Agency for that declassification, however, as Salon can confirm that the CIA hasn't received any such request.

In the interview, Cheney said, "One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity." He went on to claim, "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained."

That statement was contradicted by a senior U.S. intelligence official, who told Salon, "The Agency has received no such request from the former Vice President."

That confirms an earlier report from the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, who has since followed up with a spokeswoman for Cheney. The spokeswoman initially told Sargent, "“He made the request at the end of March. It was a formal request that the CIA declassify specific documents.” She backed off to a "no comment," however, when confronted with the denial from Sargent's source. 

It's still possible that Cheney made the request, but through different channels -- there are multiple ways for him to have done it. Sargent writes that an intelligence source told him, "Cheney could lodge a Freedom of Information Request (which is hard to imagine a former Veep doing); he could contact CIA officials; or he could submit the request via the White House."

Salon contacted a White House spokesman for comment on whether Cheney had submitted his request there; as of this post, he had not yet responded. An article in today's Politico also reported that Cheney had requested the documents, as far back as March, but that the CIA had not yet responded to him. Mike Allen, the lead author of the article, has not yet responded to a voicemail left seeking comment. 

Update: Cheney made the request through the National Archives, which has now passed it on to the CIA, Sargent reports.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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