Published on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 by Rebel Reports
Seven Points About Dick Cheney and Torture
First of all, Dick Cheney has all sorts of nerve purporting to speak in defense of the CIA. His administration outed a senior CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, exercising his freedom of speech (because he exercised it to criticize the Bush administration's lie-filled, one-way propaganda train to the
Second, CIA interrogators themselves have said that they believed that Cheney's torture policy put individual CIA personnel in legal jeopardy. As Greg Sargent has pointed out , on page 94 of the recently released Inspector General's report, we learn the following:
"During the course of this Review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting from their participation in the CTC program....One officer expressed concern that one day, Agency officers will wind up on some "wanted list" to appear before the World Court for war crimes..."
This is not even to mention, in a broader sense, the risk to any US personnel that possibly ended up in "enemy" hands where captors of US prisoners could justify their own acts of torture by pointing to US tactics.
Third, Dick Cheney showed utter contempt for the CIA when he went not once, not twice, but more than a dozen times to Langley to pressure analysts to fit intelligence to his political agenda. He and his top aide Scooter Libby were "attempting to pressure analysts on the subject of weapons of mass destruction" in
Fourth, the tactics Cheney apparently loves were a violation of US law, international law and conventions that the
Fifth, there is no evidence-none-to suggest any of this torture produced any actionable intelligence. "I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country," Cheney told  Sean Hannity back in April on Fox News. "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was."
Well, those documents were released  last week. Cheney, clearly knowing that many "journalists" apparently wouldn't bother reading them, was all over the media claiming the documents absolve him and that torture worked. The problem is, they showed nothing of the sort and actually-upon a close read-indicate that techniques that did not involve torture produced better results. Some portions "actually suggest the opposite of Cheney's contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA's interrogations," as Spencer Ackerman observed  in the
Let's remember: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a blowhard braggart long before he was taken prisoner by the
Also, Mohammed told  the International Committee of the Red Cross that he gave misinformation to US interrogators as well. "During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop," Mohammed told the ICRC. "I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the
One of the few people that had actually seen the documents to which Cheney was referring before they were released and had the courage to speak up was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. In May, he said : "I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, and I can tell you that nothing I have seen, including the two documents to which [Cheney] has repeatedly referred, indicates that the torture techniques authorized by the last administration were necessary or that they were the best way to get information out of detainees." Now that the public has had access to these documents, it is clear, as Feingold said months ago, that Cheney was "misleading the American people." And, with the cooperation of a lazy and pliant media, Cheney continues to run his own televised miseducation camp. And let's be honest: It ain't just Fox News. The Washington Post now appears  to be a private  little Pravda for Cheney and his tiny group of minions formerly employed by the CIA. "The Post management, it seems, is determined to return to its past practice of acting as stenographers for the CIA's PR machine," McGovern, the former CIA analyst, recently wrote .
The role that the media should actually play in all of this was summed up well  by Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who rightly points out that the tactics were not limited to waterboarding, but included "threats of rape, of killing children, of blowing cigar smoke into detainee's faces until they retch, in addition to the power drills and mock executions:"
"We've long said that if you televise an execution that will be the end of public support for the death penalty. In a similar way, one hopes that the more the reality of torture is put before the American public, the less support there will be for it. When the issue is presented - as in the earliest leaked torture memos - as a legal abstraction, it's easier for the public to rationalize the idea that nothing wrong is taking place."
Sixth, at the end of the day, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out , the debate about whether torture actually worked is not the central point here:
The debate over whether torture extracted valuable information is, in my view, a total sideshow, both because (a) it inherently begs the question of whether legal interrogation means would have extracted the same information as efficiently if not more so (exactly the same way that claims that warrantless eavesdropping uncovered valuable intelligence begs the question of whether legal eavesdropping would have done so); and (b) torture is a felony and a war crime, and we don't actually have a country (at least we're not supposed to) where political leaders are free to commit serious crimes and then claim afterwards that it produced good outcomes. If we want to be a country that uses torture, then we should repeal our laws which criminalize it, withdraw from treaties which ban it, and announce to the world (not that they don't already know) that, as a country, we believe torture is justifiable and just. Let's at least be honest about what we are. Let's explicitly repudiate Ronald Reagan's affirmation that "[n]o exceptional circumstances whatsoever ... may be invoked as a justification of torture" and that "[e]
Seventh, one last point about Dick Cheney and his little toadie Chris Wallace when they talk about how there hasn't been another attack since 9-11. Remember toadie's sarcastic words : "I just want to point out to the audience that it is purely coincidental that this country has not been attacked since 9/11." How about the more than 4,300
© 2009 Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill is the author  of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army . He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs