Kristol falsely suggested DNI Blair supports torture techniques

››› ››› HANNAH DREIER

On Special Report, Bill Kristol falsely suggested that Dennis Blair supports the harsh interrogation techniques outlined in Bush administration memos, while President Obama has "repudiated the use of them." In fact, Blair has made clear that he opposes their use.

On the April 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, while discussing the possibility that the Justice Department may prosecute Bush administration lawyers who authored memos authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees, Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol falsely suggested that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair supports such methods, while President Obama has "repudiated the use of them." Kristol stated, "What was even more amazing was what we reported earlier in this show, that Dennis Blair, the current director of national intelligence, in a letter to -- current letter to current employees, said, 'We acquired high-value information from the methods that were used.' " Kristol continued, "So, I mean, now we have Obama's own director of national intelligence saying that we acquired high-value information from this -- from these methods, and yet the president seems to think that they're so out of the question that he's repudiated the use of them and is talking about the possibility of criminal prosecution of people who wrote, in good faith, legal analyses which explained -- which distinguished them from torture." In fact, contrary to Kristol's suggestion, Blair made clear that he opposes the use of such techniques in an April 16 letter that was sent "to the Intelligence Community workforce," according to the blog of the U.S. Naval Institute.

In his April 16 letter, Blair wrote: "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing. As the President has made clear, and as both CIA Director [Leon] Panetta and I have stated, we will not use those techniques in the future. I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given."

From Blair's letter:

It is important to remember the context of these past events. All of us remember the horror of 9/11. For months afterwards we did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with, and our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans. It was during these months that the CIA was struggling to obtain critical information from captured al Qa'ida leaders, and requested permission to use harsher interrogation methods. The OLC memos make clear that senior legal officials judged the harsher methods to be legal, and that senior policymakers authorized their use. High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country. As the OLC memos demonstrate, from 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques.

Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing. As the President has made clear, and as both CIA Director Panetta and I have stated, we will not use those techniques in the future. I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.

Similarly, in an April 21 article, The New York Times reported that in a written statement, Blair said: "The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

From the April 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BRET BAIER (anchor): Well, President Obama today explicitly left the door open for Justice Department attorneys to possibly prosecute Bush administration lawyers and policymakers who approved enhanced interrogation techniques -- or came up with them -- of captured suspected terrorists. That after his White House chief of staff said what he said over the weekend. Let's bring in our panel: Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Bill, the White House had quite a time at the briefing today trying to explain this.

KRISTOL: Well, they flip-flopped, obviously. What was even more amazing was what we reported earlier in this show, that Dennis Blair, the current director of national intelligence, in a letter to -- current letter to current employees, said, "We acquired high-value information from the methods that were used."

So, I mean, now we have Obama's own director of national intelligence saying that we acquired high-value information from this -- from these methods, and yet the president seems to think that they're so out of the question that he's repudiated the use of them and is talking about the possibility of criminal prosecution of people who wrote, in good faith, legal analyses which explained -- which distinguished them from torture.

Eric Holder, incidentally, his attorney general, said in 2002 that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Al Qaeda captives. I mean, the idea that we're going back and even raising the possibility of criminal prosecution is so appalling that it renders me almost speechless.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Interrogation
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
William Kristol
Show/Publication
Special Report with Bret Baier
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.