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CIA Interrogation Memos, U.S.-Cuba Relations Top Week’s News

Columnists Ruth Marcus and Michael Gerson discuss the week's news, including the release of memos detailing CIA interrogation methods and the possibility of the U.S. and Cuba holding new talks.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And to the analysis of Ruth Marcus and Michael Gerson. Both are syndicated columnists whose columns appear in the Washington Post. Mark Shields and David Brooks are off tonight.

    And it's good to see you both. There's so much news to talk about, this administration making decisions one after the other over the last day or two.

    Ruth, to you first. The release of these Bush administration-era interrogation memos and, simultaneously, the decision not to prosecute the CIA agents who carried them out, right move, wrong move by this administration?

  • RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post:

    Right move on both, and a very brave move on both. The president opened himself up, as he knew he would, to criticism from the right, as in the Wall Street Journal op-ed that was referenced in the previous piece, that by disclosing this he was making America weaker.

    And he opened himself up to a firestorm of criticism from the left that he was — I know actually how much criticism you can get for this, because I wrote a few months ago that I didn't think these folks should be prosecuted, and I was called a torture-enabler. And I don't think of myself that way.

    And so the left is very unhappy about the failure of prosecutions. They're latching on to this hope that maybe some of the higher-ups will be prosecuted, and I honestly do not think that that's going to happen.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    There is unhappiness on both sides, Michael Gerson. Did the administration strike it right? How do you see it?

  • MICHAEL GERSON, Washington Post Columnist:

    Well, sometimes when you get criticized from both sides it's correct, but there are serious concerns in current and former intelligence officials that revealing this information about techniques is going to undermine security by telling the enemy essentially what are the possible extreme options in these cases.

    And the reality is that many of these methods that are talked about — however, you know, we don't want to use them — are not torture under the definition and could be used by this president or a future president if there was…

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    Well, this president has said he's not going to use them any more.

  • MICHAEL GERSON:

    Well, no, I actually — what he's talked about is that he's created a study of these methods that — that is going to be a report in the future.

    And the reality is that any American president faced with the imminent possibility of an attack on an American city, a nuclear, biological attack, would use these methods. There's no question. I mean, even members of Congress have essentially said that.

    I think we also have to consider, however…

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