Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheney Offers Sharp Defense of C.I.A. Interrogation Tactics

It only takes the threat of possible prosecution to bring Dick Cheney out from the woodwork screaming like a loon.

"It's clearly a political move. I mean, there's no other rationale for why they're doing this."
Of course, there is a very clear rationale as to why the Obama administration should be doing this; it is to ensure that no future administration ever attempts to repeat the actions which the Bush administration put into place. Actions which Cheney continues to try to defend. Wallace asked him about the fact that KSM was waterboarded 183 times and that guns and drills were taken into interrogation rooms.
Cheney: I knew about the waterboarding, not specifically in any one particular case, but as a general policy that we had approved. The fact of the matter is the Justice Department reviewed all of these allegations several years ago. They looked at this question over whether or not somebody had an electric drill in an interrogations session. It was never used on the individual. Or that they brought in a weapon, never used on the individual.

The judgement was made then that there wasn't anything there which was improper or illegal....

Wallace: Do you think what they did, now that now that you have heard about it, do you think what they did was wrong?

Cheney: Chris, my sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives, in preventing further attacks against the United States, giving us the intelligence we needed to go find al Qaeda, to find their camps, to find out how they were being financed.

Those interrogations were involved in the arrest of all the al Qaeda members that we were able to bring to justice. I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States. It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.

Wallace: Even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorisation, you're okay with it?

Cheney: I am.

Cheney is telling us that he thinks that there is nothing wrong, illegal, or even "improper", with interrogators taking guns and drills into interrogation rooms as long as they are not actually used on the detainees.

Then he gave some indication of what is really worrying him.

WALLACE: But when you say it's not going to stop there, you don't believe it's going to stop there, do you think this will become an investigation into the Bush lawyers who authorized the activity, into the top policymakers who were involved in the decision to happen, an enhanced interrogation program?

CHENEY: Well, I have no idea whether it will or not, but it shouldn't.

The fact of the matter is the lawyers in the Justice Department who gave us those opinions had every right to give us the opinions they did. Now you get a new administration and they say, well, we didn't like those opinions, we're going to go investigate those lawyers and perhaps have them disbarred. I just think it's an outrageous precedent to set, to have this kind of, I think, intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration.

The fact of the matter is that it is not just the new administration who found the opinions of Yoo, Bybee and others to be flat wrong. The Bush administration themselves had their Department of Justice investigate Yoo's work and it came to damning conclusions:
A Department of Justice investigation into the legal work John Yoo and two other former DOJ officials performed for the Bush administration was harshly critical of the former agency attorneys for failing to cite legal precedent and existing case law in legal opinions they prepared for the of Bush administration on a wide-range of controversial policy issues, including torture and domestic surveillance, according to several legal sources who have been briefed on the contents of the still classified report.

Moreover, the report prepared by H. Marshall Jarrett, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), that carefully traced the genesis of one part of an August 2002 memorandum prepared by Yoo and signed by his boss Jay Bybee that provided the Bush administration with the legal justification to authorize interrogators to subject suspected terrorists to outlawed techniques, such as waterboarding, was drafted after the brutal method was used against one prisoner at least a month earlier, these sources said.

The implication of that specific finding appears to be that Yoo, in close coordination with senior White House officials, prepared the Aug. 1, 2002 memos to provide interrogators with legal cover for using methods-as well as ways to avoid prosecution-that were not yet explicitly authorized, these sources said.
The problem most of us have with what Yoo did is that he did not give his advice in good faith. He told the administration what they wanted to hear. It is for that reason that he should be disbarred.
OPR investigators determined that Yoo blurred the lines between an attorney charged with providing independent legal advice to the White House and a policy advocate who was working to advance the administration’s goals.
Cheney has very good reason to fear an investigation, but they are not the reasons that he is giving us here. The real reason he fears investigation is because he is in this up to his neck.

And, as he makes clear here, he seriously can't see what it is that they did that was wrong.

And Andrew Sullivan is very good today reviewing Chris Wallace's interviewing technique:
Now look: there are softball interviews; and then there are interviews like this. It cannot be described as journalism in any fashion. Even as propaganda, which is its point, it doesn't work - because it's far too cloying and supportive of Cheney to be convincing to anyone outside the true-believers. When it comes to Cheney, one of the most incompetent vice-presidents in the country's history, with a record of two grotesquely botched wars, war crimes and a crippling debt, Chris Wallace sounds like a teenage girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers.

When future historians ask how the United States came not only to practice torture but to celebrate it and treat torturers as heroes, a special place in hell among the journalists who embraced and justified it should be reserved for Chris Wallace.
Amen to that.


Here Wallace gives his strongest indication yet that he is fully complicit with the Cheney line of defence.

I do find it simply extraordinary that presenters can sit on American television and openly support war crimes. It truly boggles my brain.


Sorry, I'm on a run here. In this clip Wallace states, "Listen, I'm with Jack Bauer on this."

Jack Bauer is, of course, a fictional character.

Andrew Sullivan:
I always thought that the role of a moderator on these things was to remain in some sense neutral. But Wallace is clearly a Cheneyite, a believer in torture, and the dispensability of the rule of law when Republican presidents have a chance to torture terror suspects at will.
Wallace is no longer even attempting to appear neutral.

Click title for full article.


Paul said...

"Listen, I'm with Jack Bauer on this."

Interesting - maybe he hasn't seen the lastest series of 24 where Bauer is under Congressional investigation, welcomes the investigation, accepts responsibility for his actions and their criminality and accepts any punishment that may be passed on him.

Or maybe he's only with Bauer for the shooting suspects in the knee part of it?

Kel said...

Ah, that's interesting Paul. I don't watch 24 simply because I'd read so much about the way in which it glorified torture that I thought it would drive me nuts.

jreed724 said...

I'm not so sure about what to think of this...torture is not my think, but sometimes it's required to get the answers from the Enemy.

Kel said...


That's nonsense. Torture produces wrong information more often than it produces information which is truthful. It's a terrible way to get useful information.

Indeed, that's why intelligence services value information from France and the UK more than information from Libya or Saudi Arabia. Information gained by torture is almost always useless.

And that's before one even discusses the morality of the issue.