[JURIST] US President Barack Obama on Monday defended [speech transcript] his recent decision to release [DOJ press release, JURIST report] memos describing interrogation methods employed by CIA [official website] officials in questioning Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees. He made the remarks to CIA officials who had expressed concern that their release would compromise the agency's ability to conduct effective interrogations. Obama said that due to widespread speculation about the memos, it was in the best interest of the US to acknowledge publicly their existence. Obama also said that while information on the techniques was released, he would continue to protect the identities of CIA agents:
I have fought to protect the integrity of classified information in the past, and I will do so in the future. And there is nothing more important than protecting the identities of CIA officers. So I need everybody to be clear: we will protect your identities and your security as you vigorously pursue your missions. I will be as vigorous in protecting you as you are vigorous in protecting the American people.The public release of the memos came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit [materials] filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] during the George W. Bush administration. The ACLU has also called for an independent investigator [press release] to probe allegations of torture during the Bush administration. Obama has pledged not to prosecute the individual CIA agents involved in the alleged illegal interrogations, despite calls [JURIST reports] by UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] and others to do so.