Vice President Dick Cheney bragged to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday morning that the U.S. has been “waterboarding” detainees — submitting them to a drowning torture outlawed by the world and our own laws — and this has prevented more 9/11s. For the record, I note that it has been equally effective in preventing asteroids from colliding with earth, Godzilla from stomping LA, and invasions from Mars.
According to Human Events, the vice president said:
“The absence of another 9/11 is not an accident, it is an achievement,” he said to a loud applause.
He segued, then, to support for extending FISA legislation, admitting that monitoring terrorist communications was a key strategy in keeping America safe. Additionally, coerced interrogation tactics, he said, have protected us as well.
Speaking of terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohammad (who had planned the 9-11 attacks and was an “imminent threat” against the United States) he said it was “a good thing we had them in custody and it’s a good thing we found out what they knew.”
And when it comes to the War on Terror, he said there is still a long way to go. Despite the criticism the Bush Administration has faced, Cheney settled any doubts on his position.
“Would I support those same decisions again today?” he asked of the actions that lead to war in Iraq. “You’re damn right I would.” A grand applause followed.
Other administration figures seem more concerned about damnation and litigation than Mr. Cheney. Col. Steve Kleinman, a U.S. Air Force Reserve interrogator, spoke at an interagency Intelligence Science Board event at Fort Hunt and related that CIA agents are not even trained in the practice of interrogation — only in resisting it themselves. Even the CIA’s Polygraph Unit is part of the Administrative Directorate and investigates agents, not suspects outside the agency.
After 9/11 President Bush ordered the CIA to develop a “robust” interrogation program for al-Qaeda suspects, and two CIA contract psychologists “reverse-engineered” the military and CIA training on resisting torture for use on detainees, and thus waterboarding became American. The agency also got technical assistance from Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, countries the U.S. State Department says use torture.
American war crimes tribunals certainly considered waterboarding to be torture after WWII but the Bush White House wrote itself a legal opinion that torture is okay if we do it. National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell certainly said that. CIA Chief Michael Hayden recently admitted his agency has waterboarded three prisoners, but others cases have yet to come under juducial scrutiny, so there may be more. Law and ethics aside, professionals know that torture is simply not an effective way to obtain reliable information, since victims will say anything just to make it stop.
The top law enforcement official in our country, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, does not know anything and does not want to know anything about any torture, so please don’t tell him. If he knew, and other people knew he knew, he might be tempted to do something about it, and he’s only going to have the job for 11 months anyway.
Image by Hokusai, SeaDoo, and Mike Licht.
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