Cheney Declares (In Secret) That NSA Surveillance Could Have Prevented 9-11 and Calls NSA Abuses “Hogwash”

250px-46_Dick_Cheney_3x4A secret recording has surfaced of Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition where he held forth on various subjects — assuming that the session was closed to the public and press. Cheney appears to be intent on, again, revising history to get people to embrace a security state. You may recall how Cheney (who is often cited as a potential defendant in a torture prosecution) publicly assuring the nation that the Bush torture program produced valuable intelligence. That assertion has been previously dismissed by experts and insiders. However, as we discussed recently, the forthcoming Senate Report goes into great deal to show that not only is that assertion untrue but that the CIA actively sought to hide the fact that the torture program produced insignificant intelligence (and that detainees were tortured despite their cooperation in conventional interrogations). Cheney is now fighting to defend the massive surveillance of citizens — again dismissing even the concessions of intelligence officials about abuses and violations under the program. Cheney told a rapturous crowd that all such accounts were “hogwash.” He further pumped the crowd with support for an attack on Iran to add yet another war to our current international conflicts.

In his March 29th remarks, Cheney insisted that suggestions “That we have created in the National Security Agency this monster bureaucracy that’s reading everybody’s mail, listening to everybody’s phone calls, infringing upon our civil liberties and civil rights — hogwash.” He then adds the assertion that, if we had only embraced massive surveillance previously, “It probably would’ve allowed us to stop 9/11.”

It is a signature moment for Cheney. Once again, when confronted with the creation of a security state and mass surveillance, he plays the 9-11 card. There has never been any suggestion that the program would have prevented 9-11. More importantly, Cheney seems to be forgetting the findings of virtually every investigation of 9-11 that the CIA and FBI could have prevented the attacks with existing powers. Intelligence officials failed to share information and use existing powers to prevent the attack despite various indications that the attack was coming. Of course those findings do not play as well for expanding the powers and budgets of those very same agencies. Instead, citizens are asked to embrace torture, kill lists, and massive surveillance if they want to avoid an attack.

For many outside of this country, the very fact that Cheney has not been prosecuted for his role in the torture program is a consistent reminder of the failure of the country to fulfilled its obligations under existing treaties, as reflected by the recent U.N. report (only the latest such UN criticism). Cheney is a fascinating study of how some citizens and leaders seem to have an overwhelming inclination toward authoritarian power (not just to wield it but to be subject to it). It could not be more disconnected with the views and values of the Framers who deeply distrusted government powers and foreign entanglements. Even in the face of reports and statements from intelligence officials to the contrary, Cheney continues to deny reality in support of near absolute powers in the president. It is hard to tell if he truly believes these accounts or simply seeks to sustain a rivaling narrative. Either way, it increasingly appears so disconnected from reality as to be doublespeak, or even delusional, for Cheney.

Source: Yahoo

212 thoughts on “Cheney Declares (In Secret) That NSA Surveillance Could Have Prevented 9-11 and Calls NSA Abuses “Hogwash””

  1. Raff,

    The Pharaohs were number one. So was Ozymandias. Real and fictional, just look what got them. He who dies with the most toys is still dead. “Number One” is an ego game. Exceptionalism is no different.

  2. Using the term exceptionalism always reminds me of the old phrase “Love it or Leave it”. If we are truly an exceptional country, we don’t have to keep claiming that we are number 1, do we?

  3. Jonathan,

    I think your site is good…. I’ve always enjoyed seeing you around….. I think your presence here will make a world of difference….. I play no favorites…..

    I am hoping that all adhere to your request…. Things get out of hand quickly when you are attending to other duties…. I forget which one…. But it was Paul or Nick that said there primary purpose is to get me banned…. And that I’m a relic here and should look around for another site…..

    I am most confident that you don’t allow other poster to bait and then play mea culpa…. That’s not why I come here…. It’s for the information to be gleaned….. And your most talented guest bloggers as well as yourself…..

  4. That’s okay, JT. They were saved elsewhere. Interesting take on free speech you’ve got there though. Still think it exists outside the context of other rights? I’ve seen how well that’s been working out for you. I’ll just say some have noticed that quantity is not quality. Thanks for confirming what some of us already suspected though: that your recent handling of events was motivated by brand and not really principled based reasoning related to preserving free speech in a commons-like forum.

    Congratulations on your successful brand expansion though.

    Looks good on you.

    And I say that in the nicest way possible.

  5. Deletion notice: It appears that there remain a couple of posters who, despite repeated requests not to, continue to raise the past conflicts on this blog. I understand that some people feel I should have banned a couple of posters. On a site committed to free speech principles, we have tried to work with all of our posters to ask them to comply with our policy not to engage in personal attacks and tit-for-tat exchanges. When that has not worked, I have deleted comments. I just deleted two more such comments.

    I have no problem with people criticizing me or my disinclination to ban people. However, the rather transparent effort to again start a fight over prior conflicts is bizarre — as is repeating posts on a site that some say they no longer support. I understand that our site is not right for some people. Some want more people banned. Others want to engage in personal attacks. There are a lot of sites that fit those desires. This just does not happen to be one of them. For some of us, this site remains an island of relative civility and mature discourse. We are having a banner year. Since last year, this site has experienced considerable growth in traffic and we are now more popular than ever in terms of traffic and links. We are about to top 21 million views (a record growth rate from our recent 20 million mark) and remain in the top ten most visited legal sites in the world. We have an increasing number of secondary hits on both television and print media citing the blog. I hope that that reflects a preference for our type of discourse and the array of different views that we have on the blog. It is certainly not because people want to see adults badgering each other over past history or making juvenile or snide comments.

    Now, please, just let it go or go down the virtual road. If you still have anger issues or unrequited personal animus, there are other sites without those individuals and probably more to your liking in terms of administration. We have moved on at this site. I have banned a few people and deleted dozens of comments. I do not like to do it. We value each and every voice on this site. I just ask you not to bore readers with personal attacks or revisionist posts. We get it. You don’t like each other or the policies of the blog. Time to move on.

  6. I think that has been pointed out by multiple parties on multiple occasions as well, AP. Non-enforcement was a huge factor in deciding to no longer contribute as a GB or indeed participate much. I haven’t been actively participating, but I have been watching as time allows (a fuller plate than usual). Usually when someone sends me an email to check something out or posts something elsewhere about it. In many ways, this forum has taken on all the charm of a slow motion train wreck. Pretty much everything I predicted in private has come to pass. True, there is a certain amount of schadenfreude in that, but it is tempered with sadness as well. I wonder if the mythological Cassandra felt this way.

  7. “What? Rules without enforcement are just suggestions?” -Gene H.

    And then there’s the troubling issue of selective enforcement.

  8. Paul Schulte

    Dredd – there are some things the government does that your local government is not allowed to get away with.

    The conflation of immunity with impunity is hidden in plain sight.

    It was and is a crime for anyone to commit torture, or even take part in a plot or conspiracy to do so:

    Section 2340. Definitions

    As used in this chapter –

    (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from –

    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

    (C) the threat of imminent death; or

    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;


    (3) “United States” includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.

    Section 2340A. Torture

    (a) Offense. – Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

    (b) Jurisdiction. – There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if –

    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

    (c) Conspiracy. – A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

    (The Penalty For Torture Can Be Death). The failure to prosecute is an indictment of our government culture that is no longer a traditional American culture (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala – 4).

    1. Dredd,

      Very nice summary. One of my disappointments in President Obama (I did vote for him in 2008 and 2012) is the failure of his administration to seek prosecution of those who led us into war with no just cause. Not only creating a false atmosphere to justify a war but then openly used torture as a routine practice.

      People like Cheney are monsters that do not represent what our country is suppose to symbolize. Sadly, the quality of our government is slowly slipping into the third world status with one remaining difference—our military strength.

      We’re suppose to be #1 or the best country in the world? By what parameter?

      Infant Mortality: we’re number 6 (Source CIA)

      Education based on reading, math and science of 15 year olds: #14 (The Guardian)

      Per Capita cost of health care: The highest of all industrialized countries. (Common Wealth Fund)

      Economic Freedom based on: Rule of Law, Limited Government, Regulatory Efficiency and open Markets: We place # 12. Top Three: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia. (

      Press Freedom, 0 being the best, 100 the worst: We score 18. (

      Military Expenditures: Now here is where we really shine: #1

      1. Wayne, we are regrettably advancing an American exceptionalism position that is understandably problematic for most other countries which assume that international laws are meant to apply equally. What is particularly disturbing is that we were the driving force behind most of those agreements and treaties when we led the world on human rights and civil liberties.

        1. Well stated and I truly appreciate and value your comments.

          I’m also disappointed in this administration for its failure to address the abuse of Wall Street Bankers and for Obama’s general lack of leadership. I’m not sure where President Obama will fall on Presidential rankings but I doubt if it will be in the top 1/3.

          I know from following your comments that you are concerned about Obama’s usurpation of Executive Power and I’m starting to come around to your viewpoint.

          1. Johathan – Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism, which is just sad. Every country should believe in its exceptionalism.

            The problem with international laws is that they are relatively new and often driven by those who have no concept of the push-and-pull behind them. We now have some of the worst civil rights offenders sitting on the commissions for civil rights.

            I am one of those who firmly believes the United Nations should be shut down in NYC and sent to Europe, where they can annoy them. First they have to pay off their parking tickets, though. It has become as useless as the League of Nations.

  9. Dredd – there are some things the government does that your local government is not allowed to get away with. The first duty of any national government is survival. Actions leading to that survival might not be pretty, but if they work, they are usually allowed. However, there is ‘victor’s justice’ which we saw at the German and Japanese War Crimes Trials. There were things the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union Union that should have had them in the dock. FDR was guilty of war crimes using the criteria used against both the Germans and the Japanese.

    As for amnesty, look up Operation Paperclip.

  10. What? Rules without enforcement are just suggestions? Now where have I heard that before?

    This is a really excellent thread. Did I mention that the word of the day on my “Word-A-Day” calendar is “schadenfreude”? Yep.

  11. Jill
    Ooo, crucifixion, right before Easter! Yes, I am so proud of Cheney, Bush, Obama, and others who order torture. What more could I want to prove this is christian nation but a good, old-fashioned crucifixion?

    for cheney, isn’t it more like drive a stake through his heart (or whatever mechanical device they’re using just now)

    1. Not to put too fine a point on the discussion here, which has taken on elements of a lynch mob, but SEALS are routinely water boarded during training.

  12. BFM, I think you misunderstood me, or I didn’t make myself clear. No amnesty!

  13. Annie,
    What the apologists refuse to call for is absolution of Japan’s war crimes…
    … You know, the Tokyo War Crime Trial, America called it water torture.

    Men hanged…

    The Trial of Unit 731

    If it’s OK when Dick and George ordered it…
    … It was OK when Hirohito ordered it.

  14. If Herr Cheney is ever brought to justice, it would be fitting for the trials to be held in Nuremberg.

  15. Thanks for the link Dredd. BTW your blog is terrific, I’ve been reading it and I’m gettin’ an edumacation.

  16. Annie

    … Isn’t water boarding considered torture? Isn’t torture a war crime? …
    Ronald Reagan thought so.

    His DOJ prosecuted republican Sheriffs for waterboarding “long hairs” and sent them to prison for a long time.

    (President Reagan Puts Cheney In Jail)

    1. Cheney can call waterboarding anything his sweet little ol’ rebuilt heart desires, but it will always be torture. I’m betting that if someone waterboarded Cheney that he would very quickly agree that it is torture.

      A rose by any other name……

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