When President Obama first took office, he banned all the torture techniques described in these memos. But he also ordered a six-month-long investigation into whether all federal agencies should be permanently limited to the interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual. Appearing on MSNBC yesterday, former CIA director Michael Hayden unwittingly offered one of the best reasons for sunlight. Per Hayden:

To the degree that we make these techniques public—we tell our enemies the outer limits of American interrogation techniques—it mutes the study that the president directed, because it will effectively take these techniques off the table, because our enemies will know all of our approaches to him.

If, indeed, the president’s actions have “taken these techniques” off the table for good, that will be the best possible outcome for America.


The full text of the president’s statement on the torture memos can be found here.


Charles Kaiser is the author of The Gay Metropolis and 1968 in America. He has been media editor for Newsweek, a member of the metro staff of The New York Times, and a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the press and book publishing. To learn more, visit charleskaiser.com.