Obama DoJ defends secrecy for Bush-era interrogations

During the presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and John McCain objected to the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques, and both objected to different degrees to the level of secrecy maintained on certain national security processes.  Obama claimed that voters couldn’t trust McCain to change the way Washington did business on these counts because (a) McCain was a Republican, (b) McCain was a Republican who had been in DC for almost thirty years, and (c) did I mention that McCain was a Republican?  Only Obama, an outsider (from the US Senate?), could restore balance, harmony, and openness to our fight against terrorists.

Or … maybe not:

The Obama administration objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda’s recruitment efforts.

In an affidavit, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta defended the classification of records describing the contents of the 92 videotapes, their destruction by the CIA in 2005 and what he called “sensitive operational information” about the interrogations.

The forced disclosure of such material to the American Civil Liberties Union “could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security by informing our enemies of what we knew about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed,” Panetta argued.

Although Panetta’s statement is in keeping with his previous opposition to the disclosure of other information about the CIA’s interrogation policies and practices during George W. Bush’s presidency, it represents a new assertion by the Obama administration that the CIA should be allowed to keep such information secret. Bush’s critics have long hoped that disclosure would pinpoint responsibility for actions they contend were abusive or illegal.

The irony, of course, is that McCain may not have gone this far to keep the documents secret.  McCain offered a tough-minded approach to the war on terror, much tougher than Obama promised or has delivered thus far, but he was no fan of these interrogations.  Instead of leaking them selectively, McCain — deeply schooled in the bipartisan-commission process — would probably have already appointed a panel to review the entire breadth of documentation for analysis and perhaps even disclosure.

Instead, we have yet another defense of George Bush by Barack Obama.  Now, I’m no expert on HopeandChange, but I’m fairly certain that this is the antithesis of what Obama voters thought they would get from their transcendent hero.  They certainly haven’t expected a whole series of these defenses, starting with the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program, to the set of pictures depicting abuse by the military of a few detainees, to this refusal to cooperate on the granddaddy of all Bush-era issues for the Left — the so-called “torture regime” of the Bush administration.

What happens to the true believers in 2010, and later in 2012, if their hero continues to defend Bush and keep the records sealed?