Former Vice President Cheney weighed in on the CIA memos issue yesterday, calling for the release of classified information demonstrating the success of interrogation efforts. This episode demonstrates yet again why I wrote this post last month, urging Dick Cheney to keep his mouth shut and retire to private life.
Many on the right, and former CIA leaders, have criticized President Obama's decision to release classified CIA documents as an attack on the secrecy of the agency, pointing out that the operational secrets of the CIA need to be protected. Releasing those memos does no good and could do harm. But here comes Dick Cheney, arguing that we need to declassify still more memos. This call is totally self-serving. Since his administration ordered the interrogation techniques in question, the former vice-president wants to release success stories that would vindicate his decisions. That's understandable, but it would still be a bad policy decision. Throughout his administration, Dick Cheney did what he thought was in the interests of the U.S. regardless of criticism. He never seemed to care much what people thought. But now that he's out of power, the unhinged attacks of the left are getting to him. He wants to answer the terrorist rights supporters with evidence, even though that would mean more breaches of CIA secrecy. Setting a precedent that classified CIA memos can be released to justify administration decisions is a terrible idea. Just because Obama was wrong, doesn't mean Cheney needs to make the situation worse.