[Ppnews] Cheney was key in clearing CIA torture

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 16 12:48:27 EST 2008

 From the Los Angeles Times

Cheney was key in clearing CIA interrogation tactics

The vice president says that the use of 
waterboarding was appropriate and that the prison 
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should stay open until 'the end of the war on terror.'
By Greg Miller

December 16, 2008

Reporting from Washington ­ Vice President Dick 
Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved 
in approving severe interrogation methods used by 
the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, 
Cuba, should remain open indefinitely.

Cheney's remarks on Guantanamo appear to put him 
at odds with President Bush, who has expressed a 
desire to close the prison, although the decision 
is expected to be left to the incoming 
administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Cheney's comments also mark the first time that 
he has acknowledged playing a central role in 
clearing the CIA's use of an array of 
controversial interrogation tactics, including a 
simulated drowning method known as waterboarding.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and 
involved in helping get the process cleared," 
Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.

Asked whether he still believes it was 
appropriate to use the waterboarding method on 
terrorism suspects, Cheney said: "I do."

His comments come on the heels of disclosures by 
a Senate committee showing that high-level 
officials in the Bush administration were 
intimately involved in reviewing and approving 
interrogation methods that have since been 
explicitly outlawed and that have been condemned internationally as torture.

Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney said, the 
CIA "in effect came in and wanted to know what 
they could and couldn't do. And they talked to 
me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

Waterboarding involves strapping a prisoner to a 
tilted surface, covering his face with a towel 
and dousing it to simulate the sensation of drowning.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has said that the 
agency used the technique on three Al Qaeda 
suspects in 2002 and 2003. But the practice was 
discontinued when lawyers from the Department of 
Justice and other agencies began backing away 
from their opinions endorsing its legality.

Cheney has long defended the technique. But he 
has not previously disclosed his role in pushing 
to give the CIA such authority.

Cheney's office is regarded as the most hawkish 
presence in the Bush administration, pushing the 
White House toward aggressive stances on the 
invasion of Iraq and the wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

Asked when the Guantanamo Bay prison would be 
shut down, Cheney said, "I think that that would 
come with the end of the war on terror." He went 
on to say that "nobody can specify" when that 
might occur, and likened the use of the detention 
facility to the imprisonment of Germans during World War II.

"We've always exercised the right to capture the 
enemy and hold them till the end of the conflict," Cheney said.

The administration's legal case for holding 
detainees indefinitely has been eroded by a 
series of court rulings. Obama has pledged to 
close the facility, which still holds 250 prisoners.

Cheney's remarks are the latest in a series of 
interviews granted by Bush and senior officials 
defending their decisions as they prepare to 
leave office. Bush recently said his main regret 
was that U.S. spy agencies had been so mistaken 
about Iraq's alleged weapons programs. Cheney and 
the Bush administration have been accused of 
"cherry-picking" intelligence to support going to war with Iraq.

Cheney said that those mistakes didn't matter, 
and that the U.S. invasion was justified by Iraqi 
dictator Saddam Hussein's ability to reestablish 
destructive weapons programs. The vice president 
brushed off a series of findings questioning that 
view, including a 2006 Senate report concluding 
that Hussein lacked a "coherent effort" to 
develop nuclear weapons and had only a "limited 
capability" for chemical weapons.

"This was a bad actor and the country's better 
off, the world's better off, with Saddam gone, 
and I think we made the right decision in spite 
of the fact that the original [intelligence] was 
off in some of its major judgments," he said.

Miller is a writer in our Washington bureau.

<mailto:greg.miller at latimes.com>greg.miller at latimes.com

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