Vice President Dick Cheney continued his campaign to get the nation to embrace torture this weekend. He appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation. He insisted that they were “not in the torture business” despite previously admitting to using waterboarding, a well-known torture technique. It may be that he believed that this was more of a passion or calling than a business enterprise. I discussed the interview on this segment of Countdown.
Cheney adopted the image of a virtual Don Quixote of torture: “If I don’t speak out, then where do we find ourselves? … Then the critics have free run, and there isn’t anybody there on the other side to tell the truth.” The truth, of course, is pretty bizarre in the mind of Dick Cheney.
In perhaps the greatest argument for Obama and Holder to stop protecting Cheney and others from investigation, Cheney reaffirmed that he is proud of the torture program: “No regrets,. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’m convinced … that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives . . . 20 or 30 years from now, you’ll be able to look back on this and say this is one of the great success stories of American intelligence.”
I expect that 20 or 30 years from now, people will ask how a man who helped design this nation’s first torture program would be allowed to walk around freely — giving interviews on the merits of war crimes.
Cheney is continuing the effort to shape the debate on whether torture was successful. The media is helping with this effort by pursuing the issue on whether a war crime was nonetheless productive. Cheney again called for the release of memos and insisted that “I personally know of, written by the CIA, that lay out the successes of those policies and point out in considerable detail all of — all that we were able to achieve by virtue of those policies.” Again, he ignores (like most reporters covering the story) that it remains a war crime regardless of how useful it might prove for a country.
Notably, while Majority Leader Harry Reid insists that the fact are still not clear on torture despite the confirmation of Bush officials of waterboarding and the admission by many that it was torture, Cheney again showed that there was no question on the core facts on who is responsible for the orders: “I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe [President Bush] knew — he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.”