In what must be one of the most hypocritical statements in recent history, former VP Dick Cheney accused president Obama of using the Justice department to launch politically motivated investigations against CIA personnel for their use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture).
This is triply hypocritical: Firstly, how can he accuse Obama of playing politics with the Justice Department? The Bush/Cheney administration put huge amounts of pressure on Justice Department attorneys to launch politically-motivated investigations against Democrats, and even fired nine attorneys when they refused.
Secondly, the Justice Department is launching this investigation against Obama’s wishes. Obama does not want to investigate the use of torture, but Attorney General Eric Holder had little choice but to investigate based on a newly released report by the CIA inspector general, which says that some investigators went too far, using techniques beyond what was authorized.
Thirdly, Cheney claims that the inspector general’s report proves that the use of torture “saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks“, which is wrong. In fact, the report casts doubts on the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.
But Cheney puts the icing on the cake when he ends by saying that this “serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.” Yes, this is from the administration that ignored all the warnings about 9/11, and allowed the worst terrorist attack against the US to happen during their watch. And afterwards responded by lying us into a war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.
UPDATE: After posting this, I heard on the radio a GOP congressman say that these CIA agents “should be given medals” not prosecuted for torture. This makes me sick.
Let me be clear. If a CIA agent was ordered to use certain “enhanced interrogation techniques” by his superiors, which he was told were legal by Bush’s justice department (even though those legal opinions were later reversed), then I say that we should not prosecute the agents, even if they performed what we now believe to be torture. Instead, we can investigate and prosecute those who authorized the torture, up to and including the president.
But if a CIA agent went beyond what was authorized, no matter what their motivation, then they must be investigated. Threatening someone with a power drill in their face, raping them, torturing their children, and other acts that we absolutely know were done are not “enhanced interrogation techniques”. They are torture, they are illegal, and they are immoral. These same congressmen who want to hand out medals would be howling for us to drop nuclear weapons on any country who did anything like this to our citizens or soldiers.
What they are saying is that our government has unilateral power to detain people without arrest, warrant, or charges, hold them indefinitely, and torture them, even kill them. Once upon a time, some Americans accused the Soviet Union and other dictatorships of doing the same thing, and called them evil. They applauded the demise of the Soviet Union as a victory of good over evil. If we don’t hold ourselves to the same standard, then we deserve no better.