Dick Cheney wrapped up his book tour on home turf this morning at the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes — the official Cheney biographer and famous peddler of the false “connection” between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda — moderated the event and eventually got to the sticky topic of torture. In what he called “a thoughtful critique,” Hayes asked Cheney to respond to those who argue “the things that we did amounted to torture and the sense that maybe the moral position of the United States was eroded because of the things that we did here in this country.”
Cheney dismissed the question, saying they waterboarded only “a handful” of people, which, he claimed, “produced phenomenal results”:
CHENEY: When we get into the whole area of one of the most controversial techniques, waterboarding. … Three people were waterboarded — not dozens, not hundreds. Three. And the one who was subjected most often to that was Khalid Sheik Mohammad and it produced phenomenal results for us.
There are reports that the intelligence committee did of the results of the program which were declassified at my request and are now available on the internet that talk about the quality of information that we got as a result of our enhanced interrogation techniques applied to a handful of individuals. We are talking about only a handful of people who were indeed part of the al Qaeda organization.
The “reports” Cheney is presumably referring to are two CIA documents the agency released in 2009 — at Cheney’s request. However, they do not prove torture worked and in fact, they “actually suggest the opposite of Cheney’s contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations.”
The bottom line is that there is no evidence to support Cheney’s claim that torture “produced phenomenal results.” “What we got [from waterboarding] was pabulum,” said one FBI agent. A former senior CIA official said most of what came from waterboarding “was total f*cking bullsh*t.” “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence,” said another former Pentagon analyst.
“[Cheney] fears being tried as a war criminal,” former top Colin Powell aide Col. Lawrence Wilkerson said last month, “This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney.’”