Questions Remain Over CIA Torture Memos

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The Obama administration is catching heat from the right and left after the release of CIA memos involving enhanced interrogation techniques.

The Justice Department says it will not prosecute any CIA officers who followed the procedures cleared by the Bush administration and would defend them against any lawsuits.

Now, critics accuse President Obama of "condoning torture."

On the other side, are those who say that the tactics are public domain--that it puts America's security at greater risk.

Before the memos were released, Obama said he was ready to turn the page on what he described as "a dark and painful chapter" in American history.

Torture Debate Continues

But, a day after making public questionable interrogation techniques of terror suspects, there's a torrent of reaction keeping this chapter from closing.

"These memos tell us that clearly the laws were broken and that the justice dept went to great lengths to justify what was clearly illegal acts of interrogation," said Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The documents describe in graphic detail the methods used on some terror suspects to extract critical intelligence.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit for their release while President Bush was still in office.

At the time, human rights groups called the techniques sanctioned under the Bush administration nothing short of "torture." The former president disagreed.

"The United States does not torture," he said while in office. "It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it and I will not authorize it."

Torture Saving or Endangering Lives?

Bush defended the interrogation methods, saying they helped save American lives.

Many agree, including Sen. Kit Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"It doesn't take an intelligence analyst to figure out that broadcasting to al qaeda exactly what techniques may be used in an interrogation is a really bad idea," he said.

Bond and others believe it could lead to a loss of intelligence and help terrorists "tailor ways to be resistant."

Calls for More from President Obama

Some human rights groups say the Obama administration isn't doing enough just releasing the memos.

A statement on the website of Amnesty International reads,"The release of the cia memos... appears to have offered a get-out-of-jail free card to people involved in torture."

The online statement goes on to say, "Those who conduct it should not escape justice."

A British terror suspect who spent more than two years at Guantanamo Bay, says it's "the unwritten things, the things that happened in the heat of the moment on the battlefield, that are worrying and will likely never come out."

The question that hangs in the balance, which is more important-- national security or the rights of terror suspects?

It's an issue which may become even more difficult to address if more techniques come to light.

*Originally aired April 17, 2009

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CBN News
John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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