White House: US Has Tools Needed to Protect Nation

WASHINGTON (AP) -

"We are absolutely confident that we have the tools necessary to get the information we need to keep this country safe," senior presidential adviser David Axelrod said. "And we don't believe and the president of the United States does not believe that this is a contest between our values and our security. He thinks we can honor both and execute both. And that's what he's going to do."

Michael Hayden, who led the CIA under President George W. Bush, said Obama's decision last week will make it harder to get useful information from suspected terrorists being detained by the United States.

"I think that teaching our enemies our outer limits, by taking techniques off the table, we have made it more difficult in a whole host of circumstances I can imagine, more difficult for CIA officers to defend the nation," he said.

Administration officials said information in the memos already was in the public realm and that releasing details about interrogation techniques gave no new edge to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"The notion that somehow this all of a sudden is a game changer doesn't take cognizance of the fact that it's already in the system and in the public domain," said Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

As a result of Obama's decision, he said, "we've enhanced America's image abroad. These were tools used by terrorists, propaganda tools, to recruit new terrorists. And the fact is, having changed America's image does have an impact on our security and safety and makes us stronger."

But Hayden said many who oppose the harsh techniques used by interrogations "want to be able to say, 'I don't want my nation doing this,' which is a purely honorable position, 'and they didn't work anyway.' That back half of the sentence isn't true. The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work.

Hayden spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Axelrod appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation," while Emanuel was on ABC's "This Week."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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