In a just-released statement, Barack Obama announced that -- in response to an ACLU FOIA lawsuit -- he has ordered four key Bush-era torture memos released, and the Associated Press, citing anonymous Obama sources, is reporting that "there is very little redaction, or blacking out, of detail in the memos." Marc Ambinder reports that only the names of the CIA agents involved will be redacted; everything else will be disclosed. Simultaneously, and certainly with the intent to placate angry intelligence officials, Attorney General Eric Holder has "informed CIA officials [though not necessarily Bush officials] who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they will not be prosecuted," and Obama announced the same thing in his statement.Howie P.S.: The full article is here.
I will add more detailed commentary, along with an interview with the ACLU's lead counsel, Jameel Jaffer, as soon as the documents themselves are available. If the report about the OLC memos are accurate, Obama will have done exactly the right thing here and will deserve real credit.
Just to get a sense for the pressure being exerted on Obama, here is Gen. Michael Hayden (video-06:40)-- the NSA Director when the illegal spying program was implemented and then CIA Director -- arguing vehemently against release of the memos today on MSNBC. He clearly does not believe in open government and these are the objections Obama had to override:
I'll have more details as soon as these memos are available. One can certainly criticize Obama for vowing that no CIA officials will be prosecuted if they followed DOJ memos (though that vow, notably, does not extend to Bush officials), but -- assuming the reports about redactions are correct -- there is no grounds for criticizing Obama here and substantial grounds for praising him.