Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rebuking Cheney's Torture Propoganda

Jeremy Scahill rebukes Dick Cheney's torture propaganda in seven points.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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]ach State Party is required [] to prosecute torturers.”

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 US troops that have been killed in Iraq as a result of the Bush-Cheney lie factory? That is more American dead than perished on 9/11. Those young men and women would not have died in Iraq had it not been for the policies of Bush and Cheney.

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