April 23rd, 2009
01:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Gates reluctantly supports release of interrogation memos

 Gates said he realized the documents would inevitably be released.
Gates said he realized the documents would inevitably be released.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday reluctantly supported the release of the government documents regarding interrogation techniques.

Gates, who used to be CIA director, said he realized that despite his and others' concerns about protecting the CIA agents involved, the documents would inevitably be released.

"The things that I was concerned about was first and foremost the protection of the CIA officers who were involved in the interrogations and who performed their duties in accordance with the legal guidance that they had been given by the Justice Department. I wanted to make sure, I felt strongly, the importance that they be protected," Gates told reporters during a tour of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where he was watching Marines prepare for deployment to Afghanistan.

Gates said he was also concerned with the "potential backlash" in the Middle East and in the war zones. He said the release might have a negative impact on the troops.

But Gates said with all the congressional investigations being released and lawsuits, the release of the memos was going to happen.

"There is a certain inevitability that much of this will eventually come out," Gates said. "Pretending that we could hold all this and keep it all a secret, even if we wanted to, I think was probably unrealistic."


Filed under: CIA • Robert Gates
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. S Callahan

    I think everyone should real Ed Rollins article on CNN today....
    I think it was right to release the memo...but i have my reservations about prosecution...because really ...do you think the ones really responsible will be the ones prosecuted..doubtful..it will be a scapegoat. With that said..we should move on..we know what should and shouldn't be done for the future....

    April 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. President Obama could walk on water and the Party of NO would still complain that he left footprints!

    No one wants to prosecute the CIA grunts just doing their jobs, Gates, it is the "decider" and crew that should be investigated.

    The "decider" is the one that had the Justice department bend the rules into a pretzel so that the "decider's" butt would be covered.

    Forgetting of course, the "decider's" number one job is to uphold the Constitution!

    April 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Team Torture: Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice ... and GONZO

    Hmm ... Where was his conscience when it was needed the most? I do admire his concern for his CIA officers though.

    April 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. phoenix86

    Redact the names of the agents but release the entire memo, not just the parts that paint a dark picture of the methods used. What did we learn?

    Until Obama does this, he is doing this ONLY for political ends.

    April 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. RealityKing

    Obviously we don't care about the backlash against our soilders. Politic gain is more important than even innocent lives for some..

    April 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. John

    Considering the Valerie Plame outing, this newfound Republican concern over the identity of CIA agents seems a bit contrived.

    April 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Tulsa

    No, this could not have been kept a secret.
    No, the CIA personel who were operating under good faith should not be held accountable.
    No, it is never ok to torture. No matter what. If you are willing to look the other way when it comes to our values, then they are not really our values.
    Yes. Those at Justice and in the Administration who conceived these techniques should be tried. If found guilty they should be imprisoned.
    "We do not torture" was a lie told by our former President. Plain and simple. We did.
    The truth will out and heads should roll.

    April 23, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. zago

    tough spot Gates. God bless you and your family. Good temper. Cool and reasonable

    April 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Moderate Democrat

    But hey, the torture did help us end two wars...oh wait...ok, but we caught Osama Bin Laden because of them...oh wait. Well, atleast no more bombings ever took place during their practice...hold on, bombings around the world continued at an increased pace while they were in affect actually. Ok, but we eradicated al qaeda with them..oh...wait they are as strong as ever now.

    Uh...now, what did they actually do again? Nothing that I can see.

    But in regards to what Gates stance is: Agreed.

    Prosecute every single person that authorized the torture, regardless of how high up they were. But those who were following orders are not to blame. They too were victims of a corrupt, demonic and morally bankrupt administration.

    April 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. s

    For all those Christians who oppose the release of this information, please consider that this 'truth will make us free(r)' just as spiritual truth will make us free. Torture it torture. And torture is not part of the American fabric. If we let it become so, we will decay from within.

    April 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Jimmy the Greek

    So do you also support releasing the memos describing the detailed information obtained from the enhanced interrogation techniques, Mr Gates?

    If we're going to have an OPEN DISCUSSION involving the release of classified information.. let's get it ALL on the table!

    April 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Charlie in Maine

    Add this guy to the long list of military people who would have told five diferemnet Dick and Awol W not to toture in the first place.

    April 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Melissa

    Better to be honest our front than to be caught in a lie in the back. The lie is worse.

    April 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Kevin, OR

    Gates is right, the information was going to come out any way. It's better for us to put it out there than for a reporter or foreign entity. We were wrong for voting for GW Bush. He ruined our country's name and spat on the Constitution. It will never happen again.

    I'm so glad President Obama is changing the policies. Bush was a joke and we will NEVER vote for another Republican in my family.

    April 23, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. George

    They should be released. If the agents were forced to do torture or face
    diciplinary action, they should not be held accountable. The ones on the top that initiated and ordered this torture should pay. No one is above the law. Not Bush, not Chenny, not, Rumsfeld, nor Rice or anyone else. No wonder the world can't trust us.

    April 23, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    Bush, Cheney & Rice should all be indicted on crimes against humanity. Bush should be jailed. All these torture tactics and round-ups were compensatory actions for his failure to capture and bring Bin Laden to trial. No, instead he starts a war with Iraq for no good reason other than his family name and having Cheney's cronies profiteer from the oil. Obama needs show some back bone and bring these outlaws to justice.

    April 23, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Carmelle

    Shame on to the Bush Administration for putting us on our knees, economically, physically and psycholigically. I don't even know if Bin Laden would have done that much damage to us. Who's a terrorist now?

    April 23, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Richard A. Spomer, Alexandria, VA

    Just because Rice & Cheney had agree with the military that water boarding of the detainees; there can not be any charges of criminal activity brought up against them, because they only agreed with those whom are at fault or should be charged.

    April 23, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Lynn

    So he struggled just like our president did. Wonder if the Republicans will throw Gates under the bus??

    April 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Virginia Man

    This is going to be a witch hunt! Dems in congress signed off on the memo that authorized the particular type of interrogation techniques. I guess we should investigate the Dems too!!!

    Give me a break! The american people know what this is about. It is pure politics and power grabbing at any expense.

    April 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. John B.

    Releasing the torture memos are good start to reconciling the U.S. image. You cannot be a world leader of human rights and expect countries to follow your lead when you're violating human rights. Prosecuting people for water boarding is not in our best interest, because it wasn't rouge operators doing this without sanction. The top members of the Bush administration knew what was going and allowed it. In the cases of the soldiers prosecuted for their role in Abu Graib, they should be released and their criminal records expunged, since the Bush administration threw them under the bus to cover up for sanctioned torture interrogation methods. Nice how the GOP says support the troops, but throw them under the bus when convenient to protect senior officials wrong doing. Nice Support!

    April 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Bb

    Good grief. This is not a good time to reveal what our country is willing to do – and not do- to people who try to plot our murder. Along with the release of this top secret info, could we hear if any of the suffering resulted in the protection of innocent would-be victims. Didn't I hear something about a CA city attack being thwarted? Is the main-stream media asleep, or simply mesmerized? No wonder newspapers are going under. Constantly hearing only part of the story isn't just poor journalism, it's a BORE!

    April 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Obama 2.0

    I agree totaly with gates and we need to really put this behind us.

    April 23, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Pepou

    Well maybe he should have been concerned about the 5 American soldiers who were considered "bad apples" and jailed over torture at Abu Graib. The real criminals are Cheney, Rice & Co.

    April 23, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Kevin B

    Kevin B April 23rd, 2009 12:23 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Anyone in the previous administration that has to defend the tactics of waterboarding or "harsh" interagations, should be left to defend them.

    I would not want to be in a position of defending any of these tactics. Mr Obama is correct in asserting that this approach goes against our ideals as a nation.

    The minute we went into these type of tactics along with the fear agenda pushed by the previous administration, we gave al queada way much more juice than we should have and also lost the moral high ground abroad.

    In a nut shell the results rendered were not worth it. We are a smart and more courageous nation, but we were served by small minded leaders who took advantage of 9/11, and played to the worst of our traditions for short term political gain.

    Another black eye given to us by Bush and team.

    April 23, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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