Let’s get this straight: Dick Cheney’s mouthing off has nothing to do with potential future leadership of the Republican Party. Mark my words, it has everything to do with Dick Cheney staying out of jail; at the very least, his being free to travel to foreign countries where he’s sheltered his asbestos and war profits.
With a smile on her voice, and the safety of your children in her heart, Liz Cheney joins her father’s defense team. Despicable Liz wants you to understand the following:
- It’s okay to torture if you have protocols and guidelines;
- It’s okay to torture if your torture program is “very carefully and responsibly done”;
- It’s okay to torture if your lawyer tells you it’s okay;
- It’s okay to torture if that torture is “effective”;
- It’s okay to publicly defend torture because Al Gore publicly lobbies on climate change;
- If you put your own soldiers through training to resist torture, it’s okay to use those same techniques on detainees; and
- Everyone the United States tortured had “information that would save your kids’ lives and my kids’ lives.
And frankly, Mika Brzezinski’s chiming in at the end of this piece that “most Americans would agree” with darling Liz, is equally disgusting.
I used to think Dick Cheney wouldn’t survive long enough to be prosecuted for the prima facie war crimes he directed during the Bush Administration. To me, he now looks tan, fit and ready for prosecution. He can see the writing on the wall. He knows that the Senate Judiciary Committee is reeling him in. (Witness testimony can be found here, here, and here.) And he’s working very hard to try this case in the court of public opinion. With good reason, one supposes: he stands at least a 1-in-4 chance of being acquitted there, in an actual courtroom it would appear his chances of acquittal would be slim to none.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who has for months quietly been doing yeoman’s work uncovering these crimes against our Constitution, our nation, and our conscience, puts it most succintly:
Winston Churchill said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” The truth of our country’s descent into torture is not precious, it is noxious. But it has also been attended by a bodyguard of lies. This hearing is designed to begin to expose some of those lies, to prepare us to struggle with that noxious truth, and to examine the battlements of legal authority upon which that truth and its bodyguard of lies was constructed.
The lies are legion.
President Bush told us “America does not torture” while authorizing conduct that America has prosecuted – both as crime and war crime – as torture.
Vice President Cheney agreed in an interview that waterboarding was like “a dunk in the water,” when it was used as a torture technique by tyrannical regimes from the Spanish Inquisition to Cambodia’s Killing Fields.
John Yoo told Esquire Magazine that waterboarding was only done “three times,” when public reports now indicate that two detainees were waterboarded 83 and 183 times. About Khalid Sheik Muhammad, reportedly waterboarded 183 times, a former CIA official had told ABC News, “KSM lasted the longest under waterboarding, about a minute and a half, but once he broke it never had to be used again.” This, too, was a lie.
We were told that waterboarding was determined to be legal, but were not told how badly the law was ignored, bastardized and manipulated by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, nor were we told how furiously government and military lawyers rejected the defective OLC opinions – but were ignored.
We were told we couldn’t second-guess the brave CIA officers who did this, and now we hear that the program was led by private contractors with a profit motive and no real interrogation experience.
Former CIA Director Hayden and former Attorney General Mukasey told a particularly meretricious lie: that the Army Field Manual restrains abuse by naïve young soldiers but isn’t needed by the experienced experts at the CIA.
The Army Field Manual is a code of honor, as reflected by General Petraeus’ May 10, 2007, letter to the troops. Moreover, military and FBI interrogators such as Matthew Alexander, Steve Kleinman and Ali Soufan are the true professionals. We now know that the “experienced interrogators” referenced by Hayden and Mukasey had little to no experience. In fact, the CIA cobbled its program together from techniques used by the SERE program, designed to prepare captured U.S. military personnel for interrogation by tyrant regimes who torture to generate propaganda. To the proud, experienced and successful interrogators of the military and the FBI, I believe Judge Mukasey and General Hayden owe an apology.
Finally, we were told that torturing detainees was justified by American lives saved – saved as a result of actionable intelligence produced on the waterboard. That is far from clear. Nothing I have seen as a Member of the Intelligence Committee convinces me this was the case. FBI Director Mueller has said he is unaware of any evidence that waterboarding produced actionable information. The example of Zubaydah providing critical intelligence on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Jose Padilla, often given, is false, as the information was obtained before waterboarding was even authorized.
(Statement of The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Senator, Rhode Island, May 13, 2009)
As John Dean would say, this is way worse than Watergate. It is high time to genuinely begin to put this blight on our Republic behind us forever. And the only way we are going to do that is by prosecuting those truly responsible. And Dick Cheney knows full well the identity of the one person singularly responsible for the American torture regime. He sees his sneering snout in the mirror every day.
Don’t worry— government still works! Wink-and-nod Pelosi will take a bigger hit than Cheney.