Caught In A Big Lie, Dick Cheney Backs Off & Other Bush Torture Regime News
Only a few pundits noticed, but there was a bombshell buried in an interview that Dick Cheney gave Fox News this week in yet another stop on his tour of legacy repair, willful obfuscation and demagoguery that kicked off within hours of Barack Obama's inauguration.
The former vice president has repeatedly asserted that torture not only worked, but it saved thousands of American lives, a claim that has not stood up to scrutiny but he and his surrogates have nevertheless kept making.
In the interview, as Greg Sargent notes, Cheney edged away from a subsidiary claim that the documents that he is asking the CIA to declassify will prove unequivocally that torture worked.
When the Fox interviewer asked him to confirm that what he wanted declassified pertained to waterboarding, Cheney replied:
"Yes, but the way I would describe them is they have to do with the detainee program, the interrogation program. It's not just waterboarding. It’s the interrogation program that we used for high-value detainees. There were two reports done that summarize what we learned from that program, and I think they provide a balanced view."
As Sargent notes, Cheney's equivocation is important because "it dovetails precisely" with what Senator Carl Levin, who has seen the documents, has said about them: They do not "connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques."
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports -- and confirms what Marcy Wheeler had supposed -- that Cheney personally oversaw at least four briefings with senior members of Congress about the CIA's interrogation program as part of a secretive defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for torturing detainees.The CIA made no mention of his role in documents delivered to Capitol Hill last month that listed the lawmakers who had attended the briefings.
Two small victories for the truth, that most perishable of commodities in the torture debate.SALIH, WE HARDLY KNEW THEEA Yemeni detainee held at Guantánamo Bay without being charged for over seven years has died of an apparent suicide.
Salih is the fifth apparent suicide at the prison, which President Obama has vowed to close despite congressional resistance.Medical records previously released by the military showed that Salih's weight had dropped to about 85 pounds in December 2005 -- an indication that he may have joined a long-running hunger strike among prisoners. He had weighed 124 pounds when he was taken to Guantánamo.DIVIDED ON TORTURE & GITMOAmericans are more or less evenly divided on whether the use of torture is at least sometimes justified to thwart terrorist attacks and on whether to close Guantánamo Bay, according to a poll that underscores the challenges that President Obama faces in selling his terror-fighting policies.
Even so, the latest Associated Press-GfK survey also shows that Obama enjoys broad confidence that he can effectively handle terrorism in an era when many people say they still fear becoming a victim of it. At the same time, the president has not lost support -- he has a strong 64 percent job-approval rating -- and nearly half of Americans still think the country's headed in the right direction despite bipartisan criticism of his ordered closure of the Cuban facility and Cheney's sustained criticism.
Terrorism and Guantánamo emerged in the poll as intensely partisan issues, with viewpoints largely split along ideological lines.MEANWHILE, BACK AT BAGRAMLost in all the noise over Guantánamo is whether U.S. detainees sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have the same constitutional right to challenge their detention in court that Gitmo prisoners have been given.
Bagram was not even mentioned in Obama's May 21 speech outlining his terrorist policy, but an April 2 decision by a federal judge that applied the Boumediene ruling to some Bagram prisoners is forcing Obama to confront the question of whether he is presiding over his own "legal black hole" at the prison.
In Boumediene, the Supreme Court ruled for the third time that the Bush administration's military tribunal system was illegal and detainees had a constitutional right to challenge their incarceration through habeas corpus petitions in civilian courts.Top photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images