The aides also said they hope the memos' release will focus public attention on the coldness and sterility of the legal justifications for abusive techniques, with Obama telling reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday that the documents demonstrate that the nation lost its "moral bearings" in the Bush years.So it's all about Cheney, not improving our rep or following the law? The question of whether we're witnessing a political sideshow or something legitimate should now be quite clear, especially after Blair's redacted memo is considered. Of course the politics isn't limited to the White House.
A source familiar with White House views said Obama's advisers are further convinced that letting the public know exactly what the past administration sanctioned will undermine what they see as former vice president Richard B. Cheney's effort to "box Obama in" by claiming that the executive order heightened the risk of a terrorist attack.
Now, a speculative person might conclude that team Obama is using this issue simply to bait Cheney into an open media war they know they'll win, with the goal of scoring political points towards 2010. Even if Cheney has an ace in the hole he's not the one running this debate, Obama is, and he can shut it down when the polls start dropping or milk it all the way into next year if they rise. We don't ever have to know about the documents Cheney wants released or transcripts of the meeting he says took place if Obama doesn't want us to know.
In this light perhaps Bush was the smarter one all along. Or as Rove used to say, never underestimate the power of being underestimated. Or misunderestimated.