Levin: Cheney Lied About Torture’s Success

160px-Carl_Levin_official_portrait225px-richard_cheney_2005_official_portrait Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has issued a stinging rebuke to former Vice President Dick Cheney — saying that undisclosed memos do not support his claim that torture works and save lives.

Speaking at the Foreign Policy Association’s annual dinner this week, Levin said that his investigation “gives the lie to Mr. Cheney’s claims.” He noted that the two CIA documents “say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques.”

Once again, the focus of these members would be more welcomed on need for a criminal investigation of Cheney and others for the torture program. There continues to be utter silence from Attorney General Eric Holder on the status of the torture investigation. Reporters appear to be losing interest in the question. Holder should be able to explain if he has started an investigation in torture crimes and, if not, why he has blocked such an investigation.

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35 thoughts on “Levin: Cheney Lied About Torture’s Success”

  1. FFN,

    Actually, we still don’t know what’s in any of the photos as they haven’t been released. It would seem strange that these 44 pictures would be substantially different from the others that General Taguba saw. Be that as it may, here is what Bill Moyers wrote about torture and prosecutions for war crimes. It’s worth reading. One of the most important points is contained in the last paragraph. There were brave people who stood against torture. They suffered for it, but they took it on, no matter the price.

    “…No political party would dare make torture a cornerstone of its rejuvenation if people really understood what it is. And lest we
    forget, we’re not just talking about waterboarding, itself a trivializing euphemism for drowning.

    If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That’s just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does. Torturing Democracy was written and produced by one of America’s outstanding documentary reporters, Sherry Jones. (Excerpts from the film are being shown on the current edition of “Bill Moyers Journal” on PBS — check local listings, or go to the program’s website at PBS.org/Moyers, where you can be linked to the entire, 90-minute documentary.)

    A longtime colleague, Sherry Jones and the film were honored this week with the prestigious RFK Journalism Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Torturing Democracy was cited for its “meticulous reporting,” and described as “the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

    Unfortunately, as events demonstrate, the story is not yet history; the early chapters aren’t even closed. Torture still is being defended as a matter of national security, although by law it is a war crime, with those who authorized and executed it liable for prosecution as war criminals. The war on terror sparked impatience with the rule of law — and fostered the belief within our government that the commander-in-chief had the right to ignore it.

    Torturing Democracy begins at 9/11 and recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy on the war on terror. In sometimes graphic detail, the documentary describes the experiences of several of the men held in custody, including Shafiq Rasul, Moazzam Begg and Bisher al-Rawi, all of whom eventually were released. Charges never were filed against them and no reason was ever given for their
    years in custody.

    The documentary traces how tactics meant to train American troops to survive enemy interrogations — the famous SERE program (“Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape”) — became the basis for many of the methods employed by the CIA and by interrogators at Guantanamo and in Iraq, including waterboarding (which inflicts on its victims the terror of imminent death), sleep and sensory deprivation, shackling, caging, painful stress positions and sexual humiliation.

    “We have re-created our enemy’s methodologies in Guantanamo,” Malcolm Nance, former head of the Navy’s SERE training program, says in Torturing Democracy. “It will hurt us for decades to come. Decades. Our people will all be subjected to these tactics, because we have authorized them for the world now. How it got to Guantanamo is a crime and somebody needs to figure out who did it, how they did it, who authorized them to do it… Because our servicemen will suffer for years.”

    In addition to its depiction of brutality, Torturing Democracy also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power and said, “No.” In Washington, there were officials of conviction horrified by unfolding events, including Alberto Mora, the Navy’s top civilian lawyer, Major General Thomas Romig, who served as Judge Advocate General of the US Army from 2001 to 2005 and Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, a former senior prosecutor with the Office of Military Commissions.”

  2. In addition to my above comment:

    Furthermore, it says something about Obama. It’s inconceivable that he does not know about the photos that he wasn’t going to release. Now he is not just complicit in covering up prisoner humiliation, but prisoner rape as well. Did we really elect this guy?

  3. Buena Vista,
    You are once again mixing your apples and oranges. The quote by prosecutor Jackson is referring to the entire war. I have no problem agreeing that anyone who voted for the war is on my list. However, the torture tactics that you claim the CIA briefed on were denied by former Sen. Graham and Pelosi(in her artful way)and Rep. Obey. The CIA is merely covering their backside. Don’t forget that anyone who was “briefed” could not even talk about them without being prosecuted so who could they tell without being guilty of a felony? Rep. Harman and Sen. Rockefellar made their disagreement known to the administration and the CIA and that got them nowhere.
    I agree with Jill that we have to stop the torture and we do have to prosecute the people who were actually able to do something about starting it and stopping it and the law says we have to go after the CIA agents who participated in the acts. So start the investigations of the people who authored it and authorized it and carried it out. If some of the Dems were involved in those activities, put them away, but don’t try to claim that the entire Congress or the entire Democratic side is also complicit when most of them were in the dark during the Bush regime.
    I disagree with Seamus who seems to think Obama is more of a criminal than Bush or Cheney because his ideals are higher than Bush/Cheney and because Bush/Cheney had bogus OLC memos written. Inherent in that statement is the admission that Bush/Cheney initiated a fraud with the memos. There is no comparison between Bush and Obama.
    Finally, I have to give kudos to Levin for taking Cheney on and for bluntly disputing the Cheney claims of success. However, whether it was successful has no bearing on whether the law was broken. The more we discuss the success angle the more Cheney is successful in diverting the court of public opinion away from the real issue.

  4. Not for me to question the wisdom of the secret Funding of “Covert” Operation at the Capitol or hidden in the CapitAl Expenditure Budgets or the General Appropriations. Your guess is as good as mine.

  5. “Breaker Morant” is a great film. The corollary in our time is a documentary on Abu Ghraib called: “Standard Operating Proceedure” by Errol Morris who also did, “The Thin Blue Line”. Ben Davis, a law professor in Toledo has pointed out that the argument that we cannot prosecute for war crimes is specious. We already have. We have tried and convicted the peons of Abu Ghraib (or at least some of them). This shows how disingeunous the whole argument that we can’t prosecute is. We did and the govt. did not fall apart, the people were not rioting in the streets, the Federal govt. did not cease working–all the bogus arguments given for why Obama can’t possibly follow the law.

    Obama is much smarter than bush. He engages in many of the same policies as bush, but tries to do so under cover of law. For example Holder has said we can do preventative detention as long as it hangs on a ruling of Congress or some other part of the international law of warfare. However, in the case of war crimes, there is no cover of law, however tennuous that “cover” may be. These investigations must proceed, both from a legal standpoint and an ethical one. I defy one person who says these crimes should be ignored to stand up and renounce justice for anyone they love who has been criminally harmed. If you believe the person you love should have justice and have it in a timely fashion, and you have any consistency to your ethical principles, you will demand the same for the victims of our govt.’s systemic torture program.

    I urge people to see, “Tortured Democracy”. This is what our govt. has become. If we will not take a stand to stop our govt. from engaging in systemic torture and violation of the rule of law, then we should just hang it up and become a corporate dictatorship and be done with the whole thing.

  6. According to the CIA’s “Member Briefings on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” Levin was continually being briefed on the Torture of the War and Levin funded the War and it’s Torture.

  7. rafflaw:

    You don’t know your U.S. law. Funding a War of Aggression is illegal = War Crimes! Funding the War funds Torture!

    During the Nuremberg trials, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, stated: “To initiate a War of Aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other War Crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

  8. Nice one Sen. Levin. But we all know that nothing is going to be done to our nation’s own war criminals, save a few peon who get the “Breaker Morant” treatment.

    The Bush administration atleast constructed a bogus legal framework to operate within. Obama, because he atleast pays lip-service to domestic and international law (and yes, you “New World Order” fear-mongers, it applies to us via our voluntary participation in treaties) is perhaps more guilty of breaking the law than those in the Bush administration.

    Did I vote for Bush? No. Did I vote for Obama? Of course. But this guys going to finish the job of shredding the Constitution the Bushies started if he doesn’t grow a pair and prosecute. And don’t tell me it’s all up to Holder.

  9. Buena Vista,
    It is unfortunate that you continue the right wing falsehood that voting for the troops in war zones is akin to voting for torture. A vote to supply troops in the field says nothing about agreeing and complying with a torture program. Don’t mix your apples and oranges. The right is merely trying to tie in as many Dems as they can to the Bush torture progream to convince people that it should not be investigated. Well, guess what? Any person, Demo or Republican who authorized, ordered, or was engaged in the act of torture should be punished, period. The only thing that you have said that is accurate is the part about Cheney being an unindicted War Criminal.

  10. It was good that Sen. Levin did not vote to invade Iraq but he has voted War-Funding for Iraq and Afghanistan which makes him complicit in conspiring and waging Wars of Aggression. He and Cheney are unindicted War Criminals according to U.S. law.

  11. Let’s keep chipping away at the lies to get to the truth — the details of the Terrorist Surveillance Program are still not known. (When is the Obama Administration going to do something about Thomas Tamm’s situation, so that he is free to tell the American people everything that he knows, which may prompt others to speak up, as well.)

    Based on my experiences, we still don’t know the truth, which goes way beyond the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, in my opinion. Let’s find out what Cheney, the CIA, the NSA and other government agencies are hiding — let’s find out what illegal operations are still in progress. As John Dean has said, “This is worse than Watergate.” It is. Someday perhaps the whole truth will be known. Let’s continue to push for “the whole truth.”

  12. While there is nothing stunning about the fact that Cheney is lying, it is stunning that our govt. refuses to prosecute war crimes. We must not let these prosecutions drop as yesterday’s old news. Doing so will ceed our govt. to lawlessness. Last night Bill Moyers showed part of the documentary: “Tortured Democracy”. In addition, the pictures of torture that Obama called, “not particularly sensational” are confirmed by General Taguba to show rape and complete degredation. That’s a reason to release them, not block their release. This documentary and these pictures bear witness to great harm caused by our govt. to other human beings. They also bear witness to crimes, both against these people, and our own.

    Here is a link to information on the photos:

    http://rebelreports.com/post/114305443/mr-obama-rape-of-prisoners-is-not-particularly

  13. Buddha,

    How about filing it under Still Stoned after all these years.

  14. The sun goes up. Cheney tells a new lie. The sun goes down. So what else is new?

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