The New York Times reports:
“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,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
This would seem to be an important part of the overall torture debate, but somehow this portion of the memo was conveniently left out by the Obama administration when it released the Bush-era interrogation memos last Thursday:
Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “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.”
Blair later clarified:
“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,” Admiral Blair said in a written statement issued last night. “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.”
As I wrote earlier , this is a very complex issue that often produces plenty of heated accusations on both sides despite limited access to the facts. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it’s imperative that we’re given a full account not only about what techniques were employed, but what information was gained as a result of those interrogations.