Why Dick Cheney’s Mouthing Off

March 30, 2009

It mostly has to do with stuff like this. From the Washington Post:

“When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.”

Not only did the administration torture, not only was that torture directed from the highest reaches of the government, and not only did Cheney play a central role, but it was done under false pretenses. The administration constantly trotted out the ‘ticking-time-bomb’ scenario, in which extreme measures (i.e., torture) is justified in order to prevent imminent attacks on US soil. In fact, even with high-profile detainees such as Zubaydah, there was little reason to believe that torture would yield such important information.

Cheney knows that the current administration is going to let this information out. And he knows that over time it’s going to wear down the little support he currently has. And getting out in front of it with his bullshit is the only means of defense he’s got.

This article by Mark Danner in the NY Review Of Books, on the International Committee of the Red Cross’s report describing the Bush administration practices as “torture” in no uncertain terms, is a must read.

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