Gates: I OK'd release of torture memos

April 23, 2009 at 6:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he approved the release of memos describing interrogation methods used by the CIA.

Gates, during a visit to Camp Lejeune, N.C., told reporters he believed the memos would become public whether released openly or not, The Washington Post reported. Gates, a former director of the CIA, said he was concerned about protecting CIA officers from prosecution and about whether the release of the memos would cause a Middle East backlash.

The Obama administration has been harshly criticized by former Vice President Dick Cheney and others for making the memos public.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday that releasing the memos was "clearly a political decision," done against the advice of the Obama administration's top intelligence officials, The Hill reported. The administration action was "inappropriate and gives our enemies more information than they need," he added.

Documents released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee showed that Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft and other top Bush administration officials approved harsh CIA interrogation methods as early as summer 2002, the Post reported.

A timeline indicated that Rice, who was then President George W. Bush's national security adviser, and Ashcroft, who was attorney general, were first informed of and approved the CIA's plans to use waterboarding and other harsh measures on "high value" terrorism detainees in May 2002, the newspaper said.

The timeline indicates that Rice, Ashcroft, Cheney and others again approved the CIA techniques in July 2003, the Post said.

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