Cheney Says He May Not Cooperate With Torture Probe if Asked

vice president dick cheney named in court suit by cia valarie plame 2007 News White House comDick Cheney says Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to have a federal prosecutor examine one dozen or so cases of torture that U.S. interrogators allegedly inflicted on suspected terrorists “offends the hell out of me” and may not merit the former Vice President’s cooperation.

In a defiant half-hour interview on Fox News, Cheney launched a blistering attack on the Obama administration calling Holder’s decision “an outrageous political act” and warned that it “will do great damage, long-term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say.”

As for Cheney’s willingness to be interviewed as part of the probe, he said, “It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in.”

Last week, Holder instructed Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to undertake a “preliminary” inquiry into whether some interrogators exceeded the parameters that the Bush administration placed on the treatment of “war on terror” detainees. With Cheney’s strong support, interrogators were permitted to engage in a variety of torture techniques, including the drowning sensation of waterboarding, but some interrogators allegedly engaged in practices outside those guidelines.

“I’m very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the last eight years successfully,” Cheney said in the Fox News interview broadcast Sunday. “And, you know, it won’t take a prosecutor to find out what I think. I’ve already expressed those views rather forthrightly.”

Cheney said the torture investigation would undercut CIA efforts to uncover terrorist threats, a position that has been challenged by veteran intelligence officials and experienced interrogators.

Jack Cloonan, a former FBI security and counterterrorism expert who was assigned to the agency’s elite Bin Laden Unit, said in an interview that Cheney and Republican lawmakers were sounding “false alarms” in an effort to keep serious crimes from being exposed.

“To suggest [intelligence gathering] will come to a screeching halt if there were an investigation is not accurate,” Cloonan said.

Col. Steve Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer who is recognized as one of the Defense Department’s most effective interrogators, also disagreed with Cheney.

“I’m a professional interrogator, I have 25 years of experience in this and I don’t have any concern whatsoever that an investigation into how we conducted ourselves since 9/11 would in any way undermine our ability to continue gathering intelligence,” Kleinman said.

And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, said in an interview that members of the intelligence community whom he has spoken to in recent weeks favor a serious investigation.

“My conversations with agency members — retired and active — reveals the opposite” of what Cheney has stated about the alleged damage to morale from an investigation, Wilkerson said.

“They want the dirty laundry aired and the people responsible punished,” Wilkerson said. “One or two are worried about countries such as Poland and Morocco where secret prisons were located and [torture was] condoned, but not so much for future intelligence reasons as for what may happen to the leaders who condoned the prisons now that the citizens of those countries have been made aware.

“It is illogical, if not idiotic, to make the claim…that the CIA’s morale will be damaged by investigations aimed at establishing who did what to whom and perhaps, achieving some accountability. The overwhelming majority of the CIA had nothing to do with torture and, most likely would welcome its being brought to light and dealt with.

“In short, they do not like being tarred with a brush that only should touch less than one percent of the agency. Just as many combat soldiers and Marines in the field objected to the sort of practices we saw highlighted in 2004 at Abu Ghraib, many CIA members would object to torture too.”

But Wilkerson said he thinks the investigation should go further, to include Cheney, the Vice President’s former counsel David Addington, Justice Department lawyers who wrote the legal opinions authorizing torture, as well as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who spread some of the techniques to prisons run by the U.S. military, and other top Bush administration officials who sanctioned the abuse.

“I do not believe we have the political will or skill to punish the higher-ups,” Wilkerson said. “So because of that reality I don’t think any of the senior people will be held accountable. I do believe that they should be however.”

Cheney’s interview left the impression that the former Vice President didn’t object to lawbreaking as long as the ends justified the means. He indicated he had no problem with some CIA interrogators going beyond the Justice Department’s prescribed limits.

Last week, a May 2004 report prepared by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson on the Bush administration’s detention and torture program said interrogators staged mock executions, revved a power drill and brandished a revolver during interrogations and threatened to kill the family of self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and rape the wife of another high-value detainee, Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri.

Threatening prisoners in custody of the U.S. government with imminent death is a violation of the Convention Against Torture.

But Cheney was unmoved. He said the fact that allegations of crimes contained in Helgerson’s report had already been reviewed by career prosecutors five years ago, who concluded that certain torture cases weren’t prosecutable, was evidence the allegations of criminal behavior had no merit.

Cheney added that President Barack Obama could have easily thwarted the probe if he wanted to.

“We had the President of the United States, President Obama, tell us a few months ago there wouldn’t be any investigation like this, that there would not be any look-back at CIA personnel who were carrying out the policies of the prior administration,” Cheney said. “Now they get a little heat from the left wing of the Democratic Party, and they’re reversing course on that.

“The President is the chief law enforcement officer in the administration. He’s now saying, well, this isn’t anything that he’s got anything to do with. He’s up on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, and his Attorney General is going back and doing something that the President said some months ago they wouldn’t do.

“I think if you look at the Constitution, the President of the United States is the chief law enforcement officer in the land. The Attorney General’s a statutory officer. He’s a member of the cabinet. The President’s the one who bears this responsibility.

“And for him to say, ‘gee, I didn’t have anything to do with it,’ especially after he sat in the Oval Office and said this wouldn’t happen, then Holder decides he’s going to do it.”

As Marc Jacoby noted in an article published on the legal news website Main Justice:

Cheney appears to be taking an expansive view of Article II of the Constitution, which says: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States.” Yet in practice and common understanding, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States is the Attorney General. The Judiciary Act of 1789 established the AG’s office, “which evolved over the years into …. chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government,” the Department of Justice’s Web site says.

The Attorney General’s office is unique in that it is expected to enforce the nation’s laws fairly, uphold the Constitution and represent the broader interests of the American people, not the political interests of the White House. While President Obama has said he opposes a new review of the CIA interrogation methods, he’s also repeatedly said the decision ultimately lies with Holder.

Additionally, Obama has said CIA interrogators “who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

Also, contrary to Cheney’s assertions, most recent presidential administrations have sought to maintain a separation between the White House and the Justice Department’s handling of criminal cases, especially limiting contact on politically sensitive investigations.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, however, many of those walls were broken down as evidenced by the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, after some were deemed not “loyal Bushies” for balking at bringing criminal charges against Democrats and allied organizations. Bush’s White House also played a key behind-the-scenes role in creating legal justifications for the torturing of terror suspects.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and, Civil Liberties, who is one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers that pressed Holder to appoint a special counsel, said Monday Cheney’s comments were “outrageous.”

“Perhaps, given the extent to which Vice President Cheney may be implicated in the use of torture, he may not be able to be completely objective in this matter,” Nadler said.

Cheney “is essentially saying that any acts performed by members of the CIA – no matter how illegal or abhorrent – are ok, and must never be the subject of a criminal investigation. No matter what anyone in the CIA may do, it need not be subject to the law. This is outrageous, and violates just about every traditional American concept of liberty and justice.

“Torture is also a violation of our nation’s most fundamental values going back as far as General Washington’s prohibition against torture in the Revolutionary War. We have prosecuted our own personnel, as well as foreign leaders, for engaging in the same practices. After World War II, we even executed people for engaging in this conduct.”

During the Fox interview, Cheney continued to misrepresent the substance of Helgerson’s CIA report, which found that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” or “EITs” did not prevent any imminent terrorist attacks, as Cheney had long claimed. Other documents released last week also fell short of proving Cheney’s claim that the brutal interrogations produced actionable intelligence.

Helgerson said the CIA’s limited data did not permit “definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods,” but he expressed concern that the brutal practices could have harmful repercussions by damaging the U.S. image as an advocate of human rights.

Matthew Alexander, the senior interrogator for the  task force in Iraq that tracked down al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab  al-Zarqawi in 2006, said he believes what Cheney sanctioned “caused the deaths of some U.S. military personnel.” [Matthew Alexander is a pseudonym used to protect the interrogator’s identity and security.]

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned the “timing of” the Justice Department’s probe as “not very good.” Feinstein’s committee has been conducting its own “review” about the effectiveness of the torture program and whether it resulted in actionable intelligence. Her committee is expected to issue a report later this year.

“Candidly, I wish that the Attorney General had waited,” Feinstein said. “Every day, something kind of dribbles out into the public arena. Very often it has mistakes. Very often it’s half a story. I think we need to get the whole story together and tell it in an appropriate way.

“A lot of things are being said — ‘Well, you know, torturing people is something that we did, but on the other hand, it produced all kinds of incredible information.’ It did produce some information, but there is a great discrepancy, and I think a good deal of error out there in what people are saying it did produce.”

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9 Responses for “Cheney Says He May Not Cooperate With Torture Probe if Asked”

  1. The United States Constitution says:

    Article 3, Section 3 – Treason

    Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemies of the United States.

  2. SP Biloxi says:

    Amazing.. Cheney still thinks that he is above the law if he is probed by the Special Prosecutor. And Cheney will still claim that he has Executive Privilege. Obama Administration knows the game that Cheney will play to skate any charges as the public has been wanting for so long. And I just read on Raw Story that Senator Feinstein is criticizing Holder for having a torture probe. With a very weak Congressional leaders and Senate that are divided and some that benefitted in profit from the two wars and playing politics, it is very differcult for the public to want justice for Cheney and Bush for war crimes in this country.

    I look for more international countries to investigate and charge Cheney ,Bush, and others in the Bush Administrsation with war crimes. If that happens, I hope President Obama will not interfere with an international country investigation into war crimes nor protect Bush, Cheney, and the Bush Administration and follow the international law.

  3. Hank says:

    Cheney -is- above the law. He will not be prosecuted and he will not spend a day in jail for all the things that he has done/ordered.

    The US is not a nation of laws anymore and the idea that any of the principals are going to face jail is unbelievably naive.

    If even one of the principals would be held accountable, there would be no reason not to hold all the rest accountable. So either they all need to be held accountable or no one will. You can see where this is going.

  4. gezzerx says:

    I strongly agree with the statement … We are Americans… We don’t torture. It does not matter whether torture worked or did not work. The point is the Constitution was violated & International laws were broken.

    We do not torture, and torture is a crime, not a technique . If you want to work for a government and want to torture someone, you need to find another country. Government employees take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. If you are a government official and torture someone, you have failed your oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and you have broken the law. We do not need or want people working in our government that conducted torture no matter how many excuses, rationalizations, or justifications they come up with.

    There is no way anyone can respect the CIA if it rewards torture interrogators with their job. Abscense of morality in any government agency will not result in respect, ether now or in the future. This controversy is not about legal opinions & the CIA its about the CYA mentality of the Bush Administration.

    At the Nuremberg trials in 1946, the U.S., England, and France decided that just taking orders is not excuse for torture. Concentration Camp commander’s defended their actions as just taking orders. No doubt Nazi lawyers declared their actions both necessary and legal under German Third Reicht Law. At Nuremberg in 1946, the decision by the U.S., France, and England was unanimous, that a person is responsible for their own actions. No orders or shadow legality is a defense against a complete loss of morality. The trials at Nuremberg set the standard. Just taking orders does not give anyone, not even an American, the right to torture another person . We do not want our country to have Nazi morality standards.

    I hope we still have today as much moral strength as our fathers that fought WWII to save our country and save our Constitution. If government officials today trash our Constitution to gain immediate ends, then we have lost any meaningful difference between our enemies and ourselves.

    We are America, and We don’t torture. Our Constitution and our morality are worth far more than any information obtained from torture. The ends do not justify the means & there are more intelligent , effective & efficient means to obtain accurate information.

    We should also keep in mind that who knew what & when is irrelevant & who did what and when during the Bush Administration is what is important ! Also if true, giving an illegal order to withhold information from Congress by Vice President Chaney is a crime !

    We are Americans, and We don’t torture. NO IF ANDS OR BUTS ABOUT IT ! See title 18 sec. 241 & 242 if you do torture, this is what you can expect from the law. Also see sec. 2441 war crimes . Eventually the US Government will have to do the right thing and bring all those involved in this criminal behavior to justice ! NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW ! It’s time for the the Executive Branch , the Congress & the Courts to do their duty weather they want to or not & uphold our Constitution & the rule of law. Then & only then can we put this dark pain full period behind us & move forward .

  5. luzmejor says:

    It has always been obvious that Dick Cheney believes and acts as though he is above the law. That is the primary belief and motivation of every person who is megalomanic.

    We have many prominent examples in historical figures.

  6. Thomas says:

    UUUhhh.. Gee.. How does Chainy expect to~~ “Not co-operate”..?? If he is called as a witness,.. will he TAKE the FIFTH..?? Maybe he will wanna to tell the judge to F*–off.. You don’t think the judge will mind..?? Naw… Ex VPs are immune to contempt charges..??..NOT..!!!

    Nothing like the DEATH PENALTY to wake the defendants up to whatz occurring..
    Talk is cheap and cheap talk is O.K. when it’s a parking ticket, not in capital cases.
    Maybe Chainy knows something about hiz bum ticker that we don’t…..Maybe he has been given the sentence already by the doctors….

  7. Dakotahgeo says:

    I marvel at the arrogance of Cheneykov and his sad excuse for a reason not to testify fully to the Committee that calls him to testify. Should he suffer a heart atack, revive the SOB and make him talk. If he passes out again, resusitate him numerous times until the SOB woofs what we need to hear. When he gives the evidence and confesses, and apologizes, tazer the old fart into oblivion!!!

  8. Cheney will be investigated and prosecuted. Mark my word, the man is going to be held accountable and justice will be served. Torture is never legal. The media, public opinion, and the Department of Justice are now actively on the side of accountability for Cheney. The National Accountability Action Network is committed, through its many affiliates and actions, to accountability and justice for the high-ranking officials who established and carried out the illegal policies Cheney masterminded. He is an enemy of democracy and will not be allowed to get away with his crimes. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Jim Haynes, Donald Rumsfeld, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales and others will be prosecuted as well.
    Cynthia Papermaster, National Accountability Action Network,

  9. mike gwin says:

    I just watched “Taxi to the Dark Side”, and I was appalled. The front line personel are taking the heat for obvious direction that came from higher ups. We can not become what we are trying to defeat. The use of torture and “taking the gloves off” was not the invention of front line soldiers. I support the investigations, and I hope to see justice.

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