A few weeks ago former vice president Cheney challenged President Obama to declassify two memos that he said he believes shows that the Central Intelligence Agency had reversed acts of terrorism thanks to information collected from interrogations which included waterboarding.
Said Cheney, “The memos do exist. I have seen them. I had them in my files at one time. Now everything is part of the National Archives. I’m sure the agency (CIA) has copies of those materials.”
“If we’re going to have this debate, it ought to be a complete debate. Those memos ought to be out there for people to look at and journalists like yourself to evaluate in terms of what we were able to accomplish.”
Cheney has made it clear that part of his motivation is to defend against possible legal action against Bush officials who authorized or carried out the controversial interrogation policies.
Unfortunately for Dick Cheney he has to continue his ‘I must defend myself tour’ because those memos will not be released.
A letter dated May 7, 2009, from the CIA’s Information and Privacy Coordinator, Delores M. Nelson, rejected Cheney’s request because the documents he has requested are involved in a Freedom of Information Act court battle.
“In researching the information in question, we have discovered that it is currently the subject of pending FOIA litigation (Bloche v. Department of Defense, Amnesty International v. Central Intelligence Agency). Therefore, the document is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review,” Nelson wrote in the letter to the National Archives, the agency responsible for handling Cheney’s request.
Cheney spokeswoman Lucy Tutwiler has said, “Vice President Cheney is preparing his appeal to the decision.”
It’s unlikely this matter will dissuade Cheney from criticizing Obama for eliminating the program that he said amounted to torture, though some Republicans are worried about the suddenly high profile of the not so popular former VP.
Cheney has also said he is seeking the documents to help with his memoirs.