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Liz Cheney Claims Her Father Would Never ‘Substitute His Own Judgment’ For The CIA’s

By Matt Corley  

"Liz Cheney Claims Her Father Would Never ‘Substitute His Own Judgment’ For The CIA’s"

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Last month, after President Obama released Bush-era legal memos authorizing torture, McClatchy’s Jonathan Landay reported that former Vice President Dick Cheney “applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime.” Earlier this week, former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem reported for The Daily Beast that in 2003, “Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.”

On ABC’s This Week today, Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, responded to the allegations by pointing to a report yesterday in which intelligence officials “denied that the questioning on Iraq had included waterboarding.” Asked, however, if she denied that Cheney’s office asked “to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented” to the Iraqi detainee, Cheney did not outright deny it:

STEPHANOPOLOUS: You’ve explained one part of it, I just want to ask you to explain another part of it. The report though that the vice president’s office did ask specifically to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented to this detainee, do you deny that?

CHENEY: I think that it’s important for us to have all the facts out. And and, the first and most important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program, it saved American lives. Now, the way this policy worked internally was once the policy was determined and decided, the CIA, you know, made the judgments about how each individual detainee would be treated. And the Vice President would not substitute his own judgment for the professional judgment of the CIA.

Watch it:

Cheney’s claim that her father would never “substitute is own judgment for the professional judgment of the CIA” is striking, especially in the context of establishing a link between al Qaeda and Iraq. The truth is that when the CIA didn’t give Cheney the info he wanted about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, he marginalized the agency:

In the initial stages of the war on terror, Tenet’s CIA was rising to prominence as the lead agency in the Afghanistan war. But when Tenet insisted in his personal meetings with the president that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld initiated a secret program to re-examine the evidence and marginalize the agency and Tenet. Through interviews with DoD staffers who sifted through mountains of raw intelligence, FRONTLINE details how questionable intelligence was “stovepiped” to the vice president and presented to the public.

New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, who wrote a book about “the dark side” of the war on terror, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this week about how after 9/11 Cheney “was dissatisfied with the kind of information that had been given to them from the CIA,” so he requested raw intelligence reports and “took away the filter that the CIA had had.”

Transcript:

VANDEN HEUVAL: But you said, George, that the next big controversy is Guantanamo. The next big controversy is the mounting evidence showing that torture was used to extract evidence to create a link, a false link, between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

CHENEY: Let me respond to that.

VANDEN HEUVAL: That is a crucial area of investigation.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Let me give a little context here and then I’ll let Liz respond.

CHENEY: Two points though.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Let me just explain to the viewers what Katrina’s, a little more context on what she’s talking about. There were some reports this week that the Vice President’s office, actually back in 2003, in April of 2003, I believe, sent some sort of word to Iraq that a detainee in custody should be waterboarded in order to get information to establish whether there was a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. Or more information on weapons of mass destruction. Your response.

CHENEY: Well, two things. It’s easy to sit here inside the Beltway and say, “gosh, no problem to put terrorists in Colorado.” And I think, frankly, the people in Colorado would have something to say to that, to object. On this particular allegation, you know, nobody who’s talking about this in the press has any knowledge of specific detainee treatment. And you saw the CIA yesterday come out and say, absolutely unequivocally, waterboarding was not used to establish this kind of a link.

VANDEN HEUVAL: I have not seen it, yeah.

CHENEY: Now, well you should read the Post yesterday. But let me, no, but George, you asked me to explain this.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: There was a Walter Pincus, but I want to press, I want to press one thing. Because there was a report. You’ve explained one part of it, I just want to ask you to explain another part of it. The report though that the vice president’s office did ask specifically to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented to this detainee, do you deny that?

CHENEY: I think that it’s important for us to have all the facts out. And and, the first and most important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program, it saved American lives. Now, the way this policy worked internally was once the policy was determined and decided, the CIA, you know, made the judgments about how each individual detainee would be treated. And the Vice President would not substitute his own judgment for the professional judgment of the CIA.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Not no one in his office either?

CHENEY: So, I think it’s very important for us to look at exactly what the facts are. And the facts are that three people were waterboarded. The people that are claims to be waterboarded in these articles, are not any of those people. And I think, frankly, you’ve also got to look at the source for some of these allegations. And one of the big sources is, you know, Colonel Wilkerson. Now, Colonel Wilkerson gets coverage because of his associations with General Powell.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Former chief of staff.

CHENEY: And has made a cottage industry out of, you know, fantasies about the vice president since he left office.

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Well, he’s not the only one reporting it. But it’s good to get your answer.

‹ Obama: ‘One of the biggest mistakes…is this notion you have to dumb things down for the public.’

ThinkFast: May 18, 2009 ›

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