April 23rd, 2009
01:30 PM ET
9 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. Anonymous

    Another honest man and I agree with his concern about protecting those that carried out the orders. The ones that made the decisions should be held accountable. Good decision Mr. Gates!

    April 23, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    Gates has no choice. He knows that what Barack is doing is wrong but can't do anything about it.

    April 23, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Mary Lou

    If they release all the memos including the ones showing Nancy Pelosi et al asking whether "waterboarding" was harsh enough and also the documents indicating how the outcome of the process kept an attack on Los Angeles from occurring, then I'm all for it.

    What is terrifying however is the bias and deliberate selectivity of what the Obama administration is presenting.

    Like it or not, the United States did not have to face a second 9/11 and that was largely because George Bush like Harry Truman loved his country enough to draw a line in the sand.

    I didn't agree with a lot of President Bush's policies but I sure felt a lot safer under his administration.

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Ivan

    By all means release the memos Chaney claims to prove torture works.
    To claim that they exist is one thing, but that does not mean they exist.

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. RAG

    Let's see here. CIA agents commit crimes against humanity and are let off because their leaders said it was legal.

    Ivan Demjanjuk is being deported to stand trial for, you guessed it, crimes against humanity that his leaders said were legal.

    My hypocrisy meter just pegged...

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. big papa

    Is it my imagination...

    ...or are the Bush-Cheney Republicans...

    ...who to a man stated unequivocally, "America doesn't torture!"

    ...NOW defend themselves by putting out the talking points...

    ..."The Obama administration should release the documents that show how successful their TORTURE techniques were!"

    ...The efficacy of torture is NOT at issue...

    ...TORTURE is ILLEGAL...

    ...ERGO, the Bush-Cheneyites have basically PUBLICly confessed!

    ...OFF with their heads!

    April 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Cindy

    Thank you, Secretary Gates. It's a hard thing to swallow, but the truth must come out. Wrong is wrong, and the only way to fix it is to lay it out in the open, cause the coverup will only make things worse.

    Think Catholic Church, and their coverup for priests who did bad things to kids... the coverup only made it worse.

    April 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. Lesley Anne

    There are reports coming out that the torture was authorized in an effort by the Bush administration to link Saddam to al quaeda. They wanted confessions to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks to increase support for the war and they didn't care how it was done. It was a political problem for the WH at the time and this was their desperate attempt to justify the decision to invade Iraq. It's just guessing to say that torture prevented another attack on the US. But while we wasted all of our money and resources, not to mention the lives of soldiers, in a false war in Iraq, al quaeda was regrouping and is now strong again. If the torturing of prisoners was actually helpful, al quaeda would be on the run instead of making inroads into Pakistan.

    April 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This country can't accuse Saddam of torture and then turn around and do the same thing. The world is angry with us about that and that is the whole problem that makes us look like traitors and liars.

    April 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. BARBEE

    PROBLEM--REPUBLICANS have always stood for "THE RULE OF LAW--they now lay down an accept torture under their watch .
    WILL THE PEBUBLICAN PARTY PICK FOR IT'S SELF, "THE PARTY ABOVE THE LAW? COME ON GUYS, I KNOW YOU WANT TO GET BACK INTO POWER, BUT SHOULD THAT FOUNDATION OF RETURN BE THAT YOU "UP HOLD THE LAWS OF THE LAND, AND THAT IF Obama, Bush, Cheney or whom ever break them, atleast you recognize what millions of our brave men and women have died for over the years. This is a silly season in our country, when both parties cannot be counted on to up-hold the laws of our land. THINK ABOUT THIS PLEASE, THE LAW MAKERS, ARE WILLING TO BECOME LAWBREAKERS TO TRY AND WIN THE NEXT ELECTION. Shame, shame in America. DO THE RIGHT THING , BECAUSE WE THE PEOPLE REQUIRE IT OF YOU.

    April 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. nom deplume, esq.

    The chilling effect from all of this will be profound. CIA and DIA personnel will dial back on their jobs, and DOJ and exec. branch counsel will disclaim any advice that is not "well settled" legal doctrine (and if it was well settled, you would not ask the lawyers).

    The pandora's box that Leahy wants to open may well come back to bit him and his party in the buttocks region. And it further signifies that the Culture War is going from a cold war to a hot one faster than I ever anticipated.

    April 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. David in Houston

    The truth shall set you free...

    April 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Marty, Grand Rapids Mi

    The truth needs to come out so the people can debate right from wrong. Also, this idea that we "Should look forward" and not prosecute people who broke the law is just another form of the "Good ol boy network". If government officials had to face the consequences of their actions, maybe they would do a little more risk analysis and a little less "what ever I want".

    Also, on the debate of torchering human beings, no one mentions the impact doing this would have on the torcherer. You would have to be a homicidal maniac for this to not impact you the rest of your life. Easy for the chicken hawks to have someone else sacrifice their mental health so they can have a false sense of security.

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. thetruth

    Now even Gates, a staunch Bush hold-over, realises the cat is out the bag re: the past torture techniques. This my friends is the result of an adminstration that failed the American people. after 911, the world was with us and we knew where the killers were based from. Clinton admin told Bush admin to guard against attack of Bin laden/Al Qeada in U.S. It soon became clear that Bush in trying to establish a link btwn AL Qeada and Iraq, in response to 911 attack, allowed his top hawks to torture suspects in the name of the American people. Such that 7+ yrs later the following is happening: we havent found the killers, we cant garner support militarily from the world–even though the world is in danger from extremist attack based in AFPAK area, there was no WMD's, torture bacame a training tool to recriut AL Qeada, We spent hundreds of billions in Iraq war that cost thousands of U.S., and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, Obama admin has to finish job with a rapidly growing Al qeada based in Pakistan, new Obama admin might be weakened by sins of the past i.e.–country now has to deal with trials, media scrutiny, further divisiveness of country and congress–crippling his ability to move country forward re: stimulus, recovery, jobs, green economy..., China's covertly supplanting U.S. interests abroad, and our cyber-sovereignty... All these issues exist because of the weakened position the U.S. is in and was left in by the Bush admin. I dont want to bash Bush, I'm just calling the facts as everybody sees it. We should never again elect a leader that we want to drink a beer with?

    April 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. sarahinfla

    Let the chips fall where they may. Cheney's arrogance has shown he has no remorse for his war crimes. If they were so worried about protecting the american people why did they not stay out of a war. And actually build up and protect or borders, airways, and infrastructure.

    Just think what all that money spent in Iraq could have done here at home on our on streets. A terrorists bullet or a gang bangers bullet "Dead is Dead". priorities people.

    April 23, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. But why.....

    are you not releasing the memos that show how many 9/11's were stopped because of the interrogations? And how many American lives were saved? Is there some bias here?

    It doesn't really matter anyway since Obama said he's not supporting a prosecution and will veto any attempt at it-so I guess Pelosi and Reid lose again with the rest of the radical left. Love it.

    April 23, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Rick in OP

    I wonder how much longer Gates can stand working with this bunch of socialists?

    April 23, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday reluctantly supported the release of the government documents regarding interrogation techniques. You did the right thing, too many lies and cover up in the President and Cheney days

    April 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Team of Rivals ....

    So smart of President Obama to have a Republican in his cabinet ... particularly one that served under George Bush ..... in the role of Secretary of Defense with a background as the leader of the CIA.

    This mutes so much of the partisan NONSENSE that would be coming from Republicans if they thought they could get away with it.

    Who is the next Republican to join the team?

    April 23, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. unrealistic

    wow just summed up Bushes legacy

    April 23, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. WIlly Brown

    Gates you should have stood like a tall oak tree and halted this.

    April 23, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Enlightened Voter

    Why doe republicans like boehner and cantor and thrush limpaugh think it's ok for the US to torture but it's not ok if it's done to us?

    April 23, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Ren from Baltimore

    Sec Gates,

    We are not looking here to punish the worker bees, are we? The basic fact is that the highest orders of our government authorized what they knew was illegal behaviors. The carrying out of torture harms our national psyche, was not necessary, and opens our troops and other citizens to the same irrational and animalistic treatment.

    With what the previous administration approved-ordered?-who could blame our "enemies" for not showing an ounce of mercy, or even civility?

    April 23, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. nitro

    They were never concerned about Valarie Plames protection so why such concern now.

    April 23, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Robert

    I support the CIA officials. CIA did nothing wrong in waterboarding al Qaeda suspects.

    When terrorists kill innocent is that not torture? All the people who are against the CIA, need to also know about the torture techniques of the terrorists.

    Terrorist torture children, women and even elderly by piercing into their eyes, dousing children in Acid. Have we forgotten the 8 years old boy from Iraq who was doused in Acid in Iraq and came to US for plastic surgery. Terrorist even dismember the limbs and torture people to death.

    Terrorists are ruthless, merciless and barbaric animals.

    There is a saying “to prevent a greater harm, it is ok to inflict a minor harm”.

    Waterboarding does not cause any disability on the person who is waterboared, but it helps to get information about the terrorists who can cause great harm, like the 9/11.

    April 23, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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