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12-15-2008, 10:16 PM
Cheney admits authorizing detainee's torture

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David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday December 15, 2008

Outgoing VP says Guantanamo prison should stay open until end of terror war, but has no idea when that might be.

Monday, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney made a startling statement on a nation-wide, televised broadcast.

When asked by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl whether he approved of interrogation tactics used against a so-called "high value prisoner" at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, Mr. Cheney, in a break from his history of being press-shy, admitted to giving official sanctioning of torture.

"I supported it," he said regarding the practice known as "water-boarding," a form of simulated drowning. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted of war crimes in US courts for water-boarding, a practice which the outgoing Bush administration attempted to enshrine in policy.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said. "And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

He added: "It's been a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves."

ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. "I don't," he said.

The prisoner in question, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the Bush administration alleges to have planned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is one of Guantanamo's "high value targets" thus far charged with war crimes.

Former military interrogator Travis Hall disagrees.

"Proponents of Guantanamo underestimate what a powerful a propaganda tool Guantanamo has become for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, despite several Department of Defense studies documenting the propaganda value of detention centers," he said in a column for Opposing Views.

"For example, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has monitored numerous Al Qaeda references to Guantanamo in its recruitment propaganda materials," continued Hall. "Improvements to Guantanamo’s administration of judicial mechanisms will not make its way into Al Qaeda propaganda. Nothing short of closing Guantanamo will remove this arrow from its quiver."

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison and pull US forces out of Iraq. Cheney, however, has a different timeline for when Guantanamo Bay prison may be "responsibly" retired.

"Well, I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror," he told ABC.

Problematic to his assertion: Mr. Bush's "war on terror" is undefinable and unending by it's very nature, and Cheney seems to recognize this as fact.

Asked when his administration's terror war will end, he jostled, "Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that."

This video is from ABC's World News, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.

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12-17-2008, 09:47 AM
Cheney the failed architect
More than any other person, the US vice-president is responsible for the Bush administration's torture policy


Matthew Duss
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 17 December 2008 12.00 GMT

The notion that the presidency of George Bush has been a disaster for the US approaches the level of self-evident truth. It has actually become quite difficult to find anyone who isn't a personal friend of the president who will argue otherwise. But, in case you were wondering, Dick Cheney isn't sorry about any of it. In a recent interview with ABC News, the vice-president betrayed no second thoughts – and certainly no remorse – about the policies pursued by the administration that he both served and, according to some, led. Watching Cheney's brusque dismissal of concerns about his methods in the war on terror, you'd be forgiven for coming to the mistaken impression that these methods have worked. There is no evidence that they have.

Over the last eight years, Cheney's scowling visage has been the more true and honest face of the Bush administration. Unlike Bush, when discussing the national security policies of the US Cheney rarely bothered with transparently disingenuous appeals to democracy-building, dealing instead in appeals to fear and raw assertions of power.

More than any other person, Cheney is the architect of America's war on terror. Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press the Sunday after 9/11, Cheney famously stated the need for America to "work … the dark side" in response to the al-Qaida attacks. In the subsequent years, he demonstrated that he was as good as his word.

Pressed by interviewer Jonathan Karl on concerns about the Guantánamo Bay prison, where suspects are held indefinitely as "illegal combatants", Cheney claimed that many of them "have been released back to their home countries." He then insisted: "What we have left is the hard core." But, of course, Cheney has always insisted that those held in Guantánamo were the hard core – the "worst of the worst," as former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld put it – while ignoring evidence that many were falsely imprisoned there, and assiduously working to quash efforts to ascertain their actual guilt or innocence.

Confronted with criticisms of the Bush administration's torture policy, Cheney simply lied, saying: "We don't do torture. We never have." Demonstrating once again his rather post-modern approach to language and meaning, later in the interview Cheney bluntly admitted that he had supported the waterboarding of al-Qaida mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. Waterboarding is, of course, torture, devised by torturers as a method of torture, an inconvenient fact that Cheney dealt with by simply declaring waterboarding "not torture", and then finding a lawyer or two willing to go along.

The intelligence community, including professional interrogators, is virtually unanimous on the point that, as a means of interrogation, torture is effective at one thing – extracting false confessions. As an instrument of political rhetoric however, torture has been used by Cheney and other conservatives as a means to evoke toughness, the willingness to embrace cruelty to protect Americans. But whatever short-term political gain this tactic may have had in expanding executive branch prerogatives, the damage to America's reputation – making a mockery of our claims to uphold human rights – has been incalculable.

Given the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, the international disgraces of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and the CIA's black sites, the Bush administration's sole claim to counter-terror success is the fact that the US homeland has not been attacked again since 9/11. As to actual proof that the absence of such an attack is the result of his policies of kidnapping and torture, Cheney just says: "Trust me." But for someone with a record of dishonesty like Cheney's, ("Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction") and a history of asserting secret knowledge in response to legitimate questions and criticism, such claims are simply not sufficient. If there's one thing Dick Cheney no longer deserves, it's the benefit of the doubt.

12-17-2008, 02:27 PM
Scholar: Cheney confessed to war crime

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Turley_Cheney_actions_unambiguously_war_crime_1217 .html

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday December 17, 2008

Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley believes that not only did Vice President Dick Cheney "unambiguously" confess to a war crime during an ABC interview on Monday, but the US' future as a nation may depend on taking action.

Asked by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann whether Cheney had just confessed to a war crime on national television, Turley at first replied wryly, "It's an interesting question, isn't it? ... If someone commits a crime and everyone's around to see it and does nothing, is it still a crime?"

"It most certainly is a crime to participate, to create, to in many ways monitor a torture program," he added. "What [Cheney] is describing is most certainly and unambiguously a war crime."

During Monday's interview, Cheney was asked, "Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohamed?" and replied, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared."

"What happens if the next administration does not press this?" Olbermann asked. "Do we let the International Court at the Hague come in and take over all our responsibilities for policing our own act here?"

"That's what worries me the most," Turley replied, "is that you can't talk about change without having some moral component to it. It's not just about creating jobs or lowering the price of gasoline."

"What occurred in the last eight years was an assault on who we are," Turley said. "I think that President-elect Obama's going to have to decide whether he wants power without principle or whether he wants to start with a true change, to say that no matter where an investigation will take us, if there are crimes to be found they will be prosecuted."

"It will ultimately depend on citizens, and whether they will remain silent in the face of a crime that's been committed in plain view," Turley concluded. "It is equally immoral to stand silent in the face of a war crime and do nothing, and that is what the citizens are doing. There's this gigantic yawn."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Dec. 16, 2008.

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12-18-2008, 12:41 PM
Senator: 'As far as I'm concerned,' Cheney admitted condoning torture


David Edwards and Diane Sweet
Published: Thursday December 18, 2008

Vice President Dick Cheney confessed to approving torture, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday night.

During an interview with ABC News on Monday evening, Cheney had said "I supported it," referring to the practice known as "waterboarding," a form of simulated drowning.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said. "And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

"Did he just admit to condoning torture?" Maddow queries.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what he admitted," Levin said after a pause to shut his eyes, and shake his head as if still in disbelief.

"Now he'll say that he doesn't admit supporting torture," Levin added, "but facts are that the policies which were approved, the legal opinions authorized these harsh techniques, and when the Vice President of the United States says that he believes -- and he said that what, just a few nights ago -- that waterboarding is 'appropriate,' there is no other conclusion that I can reach other than I know it's a form of torture, it's been acknowledged as a form of torture I think since the Inquisition. Senator McCain who was the subject of torture is absolutely clear on it, but I think every authority on waterboarding and torture will say that waterboarding constitutes 'torture.'"

Senator Levin oversaw an 18-month long investigation into the Bush administration’s torture policy that established that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay resulted from policies introduced by George W. Bush. Levin spoke on the need for further investigations, and the ultimate necessity for indictments in order to hold those responsible for torture policies accountable.

"You can't suddenly change something that's illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion saying it's legal," Levin said later.

"Do there need to be prosecutions?" Maddow asked, steering the discussion towards the possibility of prosecution and indictments by noting that the Armed Services Committee report on the treatment of U.S. detainees seemed as if its purpose had been the gathering facts for an indictment.

Levin spoke hopefully that the Obama administration would take some "major steps" as "clearly this Justice Department is not willing," and the need for an independent commission that could be appointed by the Obama administration to examine the role of the CIA in the treatment of U.S. detainees as their role has not yet been made clear. Then with all the facts they "may or may not lead to indictments, or civil action."

"You heard the "I" word here," Maddow concludes. "Indictments!"

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 17, 2008.

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