Stephen Hayes reviews the selective leaking of the memos on enhanced interrogation techniques and the comments from Vice President Cheney that there is more evidence out there of benefits we derived from them than the Obama team is revealing. Hayes writes:
It is possible, I suppose, that a series of fortunate coincidences has resulted in the public disclosure of only that information that will be politically helpful to the Obama administration. It is also possible that Dick Cheney has taken up synchronized swimming in his retirement.
The danger here for the Obama administration is three-fold. First, the press has begun a feeding frenzy: Why did the administration change position on prosecution? Why the selective leaks? Even if sympathetic to the decision itself, nothing gets the White House press corps going like a game-playing bit of media deception. And they now have a big juicy story on that front.
Second, a high stakes hyper-partisan battle complete with leaking memos and an aggrieved CIA contingent is likely the last thing the Obama administration needs. This is the Church Committee on steroids — a national angst festival where one side will make the case that by lighting the match the president has hobbled our national security apparatus. So much for No-Drama Obama.
Finally, it is hard not to conclude that the Bush administration will come out looking better at the end of this, and its critics, worse. A planned attack on Los Angeles — what would you do? A congressional contingent visits the detention center, queries the officials to make sure we’re doing “enough” and now convenes the witch hunt. How’s that going to look?
This is, as Hayes writes in understated terms, one “odd” episode in American history. The oddest perhaps yet. No administration before has declared war on its predecessor, and for good reason: you can’t do it without tearing the country and our national security apparatus apart. For someone pledging to be post-partisan and to avoid destructive recriminations, Obama has chosen a very “odd” course. He has done more to criminalize politics than any single figure in American history — no easy feat for someone in office less than one hundred days.