In an interview earlier this week, Vice President Cheney admitted to personally approving the torture of high-profile detainees. In a new interview with the Washington Times, Cheney stridently defended the Bush administration’s torture policies, saying, “I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do.” He added emphatically that he would “do exactly the same thing again.”
Most audaciously, Cheney specifically defended the morality of torture, suggesting that it would have been immoral for the United States to not torture:
“In my mind, the foremost obligation we had from a moral or an ethical standpoint was to the oath of office we took when we were sworn in, on January 20 of 2001, to protect and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. And that’s what we’ve done,” he said. […]
“I think it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to do everything we could in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11,” Mr. Cheney said.
Cheney insisted that the torture policies he helped craft were “directly responsible for the fact that we’ve been able to avoid or defeat further attacks against the homeland for 7 1/2 years.”
Torture has endangered, not protected, American lives. Military experts say that the U.S.’s torture policies have been the single greatest recruiting tool for al Qaeda. A former interrogator who worked in Iraq stated unequivocally, “The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Rather than keeping us safe, former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan warned that Cheney’s torture policies will lead directly to another domestic terrorist attack:
Based on my experience in talking to Al Qaida members, I am persuaded that revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming; that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans; and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality.
Cheney appeared unconcerned about the possibility of being held legally responsible for what many are calling an admission of war crimes. He insisted that waterboarding was not torture, and explained, “We spent a great deal of time and effort getting legal advice.” However, speaking on MSNBC last night, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said, “You can’t just suddenly change something that is illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion that saying it’s legal.”