Report: Obama may keep some CIA torture details secret
Published: Tuesday April 14, 2009

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President Barack Obama is "wavering" on whether to fully release details of the Bush administration's approved torture techniques, according to a report in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal based on statements by "people familiar with the discussions."

"Among the details in the still-classified memos is approval for a technique in which a prisoner's head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos," the paper reported.

"A decision to keep secret key parts of the three 2005 memos outlining legal guidance on CIA interrogations would anger some Obama supporters who have pushed him to unveil now-abandoned Bush-era tactics," continued Journal reporters Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman. "It would also go against the views of Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig, people familiar with the matter said.

"Top CIA officials have spoken out strongly against a full release, saying it would undermine the agency's credibility with foreign intelligence services and hurt the agency's work force, people involved in the discussions said. However, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair favors releasing the information, current and former senior administration officials said."

In light of the startling revelations that came to light with the publication of a Red Cross report [PDF link] which documents in gruesome detail interrogation practices such as suffocation by water, beating by collar and prolonged nudity, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he would support a Department of Justice investigation into the reported torture.

"President Obama said he doesn't want to spend all his time looking back. Fair enough. But he has also said egregious violations should be prosecuted," said Schumer, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The most logical, best place to start is the Justice Department. They haven't said if they are going to do it or not ... If they won't do it, someone else is going to have to do it. But they should be given the first crack."

In a wide-ranging conversation with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Wednesday, April 9, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann waited until the final moments of his interview to raise questions on the allegations of torture against the Bush administration. Pelosi said that despite a difference in opinion between Congress and the Obama White House on the matter, "we believe that we have to take a look" to ferret out potential "criminal activity" in the treatment of detainees.

With reporting by Rachel Oswald and Stephen C. Webster.

Compiled by Stephen C. Webster

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