Clear away all of Dick Cheney’s tired 9/11 fearmongering, the discredited arguments about Saddam’s terrorist ties, the canned outrage at the release of information that was already public, and the unfalsifiable claim that, because of the Bush administration’s policies, the terrorists only managed to hit us once, and what you’ve got left is Cheney’s claim that information exists that proves that the Bush administration’s use of waterboard torture produced specific intelligence that prevented another successful terrorist attack in the United States. Even if this is true — and as I’ve written before, there’s probably no single American less deserving of the benefit of the doubt in this respect than Dick Cheney — according to DNI Blair, “the damage [these techniques] have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.” But we shall see.
One interesting aspect is Cheney’s schizophrenic attitude toward America’s image management, something he shares with a lot of conservatives. After praising President Obama’s “wise decision” in “reversing his plan to release incendiary photos” of Iraqis being abused by U.S. soldiers, Cheney went on dismiss “the notion that American interrogation practices were a ‘recruitment tool’ for the enemy,” calling it “another version of that same old refrain from the Left, ‘We brought it on ourselves.'”
Cheney is arguing against Gen. Petraeus, Sen. John McCain, and military interrogators who have acknowledged that abusive interrogation practices have incited hatred against the U.S. and served as a recruiting tool for our enemies. Cheney implicitly admits as much with his comments about the “incendiary photos” — if bad publicity has nothing to do with national security, what’s the problem? Why should we care who they incite?
As for the notion that criticizing national security policies as counterproductive is the same as saying “We brought it on ourselves,” well, Dick contradicts himself here, too, as he is quite happy to cast blame on the Clinton administration’s anti-terrorism policies for an attack that happened on the Bush administration’s watch. Why can’t Dick Cheney stop blaming America?