Rebuking Cheney's Torture Propaganda in 7 Easy Steps
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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 Iraq war).
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 Iraq, according to Vincent Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief at the CIA. So when Cheney talks about being “ offended as hell,” let’s remember how much faith Cheney had in the CIA in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. I’m sure the CIA analysts who he tried to manipulate were “offended as hell” by Cheney’s actions. “The visits were, in fact, unprecedented,” wrote Ray McGovern, who was vice president George HW Bush’s national security briefer. “During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit.” Those personal visits were in addition to the ones Cheney received at home. “I enjoyed having the CIA show up on my doorstep every morning, six days a week, with the latest intelligence,” Cheney said on Fox News Sunday.
Fourth, the tactics Cheney apparently loves were a violation of US law, international law and conventions that the US has ratified—including the Convention Against Torture ratified under the militant leftist regime of Ronald Reagan. That dovish draft-dodger who wouldn’t know torture if he endured it for several years, John McCain, pointed out the lawless aspects of Cheney’s torture program on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan,” said McCain. “I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq… I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members.”
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.”