Obama Visits CIA But Some Agents “Horrified” At His Disclosures

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, about the Obama Administration’s release of CIA interrogation methods,”we’ve enhanced America’s image abroad. These were tools used by terrorists, propaganda tools to recruit new terrorists. And the fact is having changed America’s image does have an impact on our security and safety and makes us stronger.”

Brit Hume from Fox News had two criticisms: first, that the president seems to care more about world opinion than domestic U.S. security and opinion and, second, that the president may have acted out of his own hubris and political motives.

Said Hume of the Fox News Channel, “Obama seemed to act out of his own limitless magnetism to change the world…”

“I promise you. We won’t just win New Hampshire. We will win this election and, you and I together, we’re going to change the country and change the world.”

Barack Obama said that while running for president…..

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By Toby Harnden
Telegraph (UK)

“You know, there have been some conversations that I’ve had with senior folks here at Langley in which I think people have expressed understandable anxiety and concern,” he said.

“So I want to make a point that…I understand that it’s hard when you are asked to protect the American people against people who have no scruples and would willingly and gladly kill innocents.”
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His visit came as it emerged that the highly controversial technique of “water-boarding”, a type of simulated drowning, was used 266 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, two senior al-Qaeda prisoners.

Last week, Mr Obama released documents written by officials in President George W. Bush’s administration that contained details of the CIA’s methods of extracting information from al-Qaeda suspects between 2002 and 2005.

Barack Obama visits CIA to calm uproar over release of secret memos

Leon Panetta, Mr Obama’s CIA chief, had implored the president not to release the memos Photo: REUTERS

Although Mr Obama said that neither CIA interrogators nor the authors of the memos should be prosecuted, civil liberties groups have demanded that torture charges be brought, arguing that the “Nuremberg defence” of following orders is unacceptable.

The methods, which were eventually prohibited by the Bush administration, included sleep deprivation for up to 11 days, forced nudity and stress positions as water-boarding, in which “water is continuously applied from a height of 12 to 24 inches” for “20 to 40 seconds”.

It was also revealed that Zubaydah was placed in a box with an insect in order to exploit his fear of them.

Leon Panetta, Mr Obama’s CIA chief, and four most recent former heads of the spy agency had all implored the US president not to release the memos, stating that doing so would damage national security and demoralise CIA operatives.

Mr Obama described the methods as part of a “dark and painful chapter in our history” and Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, defended the decision to publicise them, stating that it had “enhanced America’s image abroad” and deprived al-Qaeda of “propaganda tools”.

Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer who led the agency’s paramilitary team that searched for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, said his former colleagues were “horrified” by Mr Obama’s actions.

“When you make this public you define for al-Qaeda the limits of the playbook we would use against them. This allows them to prepare themselves.

“Part of the problem is that this administration can’t control themselves in terms of continuing to throw mud at their predecessors. The decision seemed to be political.”

The release of the documents and the outlawing of the techniques, he suggested, could come to haunt Mr Obama. “What do you do when you capture a terrorist who has a bio-weapon or fissile material if you have a standard that won’t allow for anything at all? What he’s done is close down his room for manoeuvre.”

Michael Hayden, who retired in January as CIA chief, told Fox News: “What we have described for our enemies, in the midst of a war, are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al-Qaeda terrorist. That’s very valuable information.”

He argued that Mr Obama’s actions – which were lauded by civil liberties groups – put interrogators in the “horrible position” of fearing prosecution even if they’d been told by the White House that the methods they’d been instructed to use were legal.

Mr Hayden, a former Air Force general appointed by Mr Bush but well regarded within the CIA and viewed as a non-partisan intelligence professional, added that the methods were effective.

“Most of the people who oppose these techniques want to be able to say, ‘I don’t want my nation doing this … and they didn’t work anyway.’ That back half of the sentence isn’t true,” he said.

“The use of these techniques against these terrorists really did make us safer, it really did work,” he said.

Related:
Sharing Intelligence Relies Upon Trust: Obama Has Given That Away, Called an End To Terror War

CIA Interrogations Condemned By Obama Administration, NYT, “Made Us Safer,” Details Released Put CIA Officers in “Horrible Position”

General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace on April 19, 2009, to say, “The release of CIA interrogation techniques by the White House, by the president, endangers national security.”. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

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