Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) asked President Obama to release several classified memos referenced in a recent interview by former Vice President Dick Cheney, claiming that the memos could show that the Bush administration’s torture program was effective in gathering intelligence.
Over the weekend, however, McClatchy reported that the CIA Inspector General (IG) found in a still-classified 2004 report “that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any ‘specific imminent attacks.’” The IG concluded that “waterboarding was riskier than officials claimed and reported that the CIA’s Office of Medical Services thought that the risk to the health of some prisoners outweighed any potential intelligence benefit.”
In response to the McClatchy piece, Greg Sargent asked Boehner’s office if the Minority Leader would be requesting that Obama also declassify the 2004 IG report. Boehner’s office responded by suggesting that such a request would be “cherry-picking for political purposes”:
Decisions about whether or not to release information regarding our bipartisan efforts to gather intelligence on the terrorist threat over the past eight years should be based on what’s best for our security, not cherry-picked for political purposes. The American people deserve to make their judgments based on the full set of facts.
In refusing to endorse releasing any documents that might demonstrate that his support for the Bush administration’s use of torture was misguided, Boehner is himself ensuring that Americans won’t be able to “make their judgments based on the full set of facts.”
More to the point, Boehner’s accusations of “cherry picking” come on the same day that he called for the CIA to release classified documents showing when and what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew about the Bush administration’s use of torture. As Glenn Thrush reports, in calling for the Pelosi details to be released, “[t]he GOP is hoping to spotlight the fact that Pelosi and other Democrats raised few objections when told about details of the Bush administration ‘enhanced interrogations’ of terror suspects.” In other words, Boehner wants to declassify the documents for the “political purposes” that Boehner’s spokesman decried earlier today.
To be sure, the public should know exactly what and when the congressional leadership knew about the Bush administration’s use of torture. But the public should also know what the CIA’s IG had to say about it as well. Anything less is not the “full set of facts.”