Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cheney's Speech Filled With "Omissions, Exaggerations And Misstatements"

Instead of treating the speeches on Thursday of President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney as a rhetorical boxing match, Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel actually did some research and analysis. The two uncovered Cheney's "omissions, exaggerations and misstatements." 

Speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Cheney claimed that Admiral Dennis Blair stated that the information gained by "enhanced interrogation" gave us a "deeper understanding of al Qaida."

In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

Cheney called Obama's release of four Bush administration memos on interrogation "contrary" to national security.

However, Blair, who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, said in his statement that he recommended the release of the memos, "strongly supported" Obama's decision to prohibit using the controversial methods and that "we do not need these techniques to keep America safe."

Cheney saw no connection between the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and Bush administration policies, blaming it on "a few sadistic guards."

However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Cheney said that the only ones subject to harsh interrogation were "detainees of the highest intelligence value" such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

He didn't mention Abu Zubaydah, the first senior al Qaida operative to be captured after 9-11. Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan told a Senate subcommittee last week that his interrogation of Zubaydah using traditional methods elicited crucial information, including Mohammed's alleged role in 9-11.

The decision to use the harsh interrogation methods "was one of the worst and most harmful decisions made in our efforts against al Qaida," Soufan said. Former State Department official Philip Zelikow, who in 2005 was then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's point man in an internal fight to overhaul the Bush administration's detention policies, joined Soufan in his criticism.

Cheney stated that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries.

No comments: