Original Link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/24/17532/5216
In this performance on MSNBC Liz Cheney, daughter of the Former Vice President, was absolutely stunning in her delivery of rapid-fire talking points in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that under her Father and President Bush this country engaged in Totalitarian Methods and War Crimes - and in the process still failed to protect America by using false intelligence and false confessions to begin an unwarranted invasion of Iraq.
In the following I take on her talking points one by one.
Vyan's diary :: ::
Point by Point...
False Claim 1: The Program was Widely Approved and Legal.
The first act by President Bush in this matter, on recommendation from John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales, was to deny that Geneva protections applied to al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. This temporarily invalidated the War Crimes Act (18 USC 2441), but did not make Torture (18 USC 2340) Legal. This action was later overturned by the SCOTUS in Hamdan v Rumsfeld which found that Geneva absolutely did apply, meaning that Bush's original determination was wrongly reached.
Also FBI Agents threatened to Arrest CIA interrogators for their treatment of Abu Zubaydah.
This conflict between FBI and CIA led to Director Mueller's pulling all of his agents out of future CIA directed interrogation efforts. If all of this was so legal, why did the FBI run like scared rabbits away from it?
Several attorney's within DOJ and the State Dept dissented with OLC memos which legitimized the use of SERE-tactics as legal interrogation methods. THESE ATTORNEY'S WERE RETALIATED AGAINST FOR THEIR VIEWS. The Zelikow Memo was ordered to be destroyed. Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith was forced to resign by Cheney's Counsel David Addington after ordering the Yoo memos rescinded. General Counsel to the Navy, Alberto Mora wrote a memo detailing the abuse at GTMO and rebutting the Yoo Memos, he was forced to retire.
False Claim 2: President Obama and AG Holder have ignored evidence of the program effectiveness.
Key information from Zubaydah was gathered by the FBI before harsh methods were used, such as confirming the identity of KSM. Information gathered after these methods were applied remain dubious and have appeared to be false.
The actual capture of KSM came from other sources besides Zubaydah.
The Los Angeles Library Tower attack was thwarted over a year before KSM was captured.
When asked FBI Director Mueller has stated that to his knowledge No Terrorist Plots were thwarted using coerced information.
Lastly "It Worked" is no excuse - under the UN Convention Against Torture which was signed by President Reagan and ratified by a Republican Congress in 1995, which forms the basis for 18 USC 2340...
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
False Claim 3: These tactics weren't torture because they are used in SERE in the training of our own troops.
SERE was developed in response to torture tactics used against our troops in the Korean war by Communist forces. The techniques are identical to those which led to the execution of Japanese soldiers in WWII and prosecution of American soldiers in Vietnam. The Communist used them to illicit False Confessions, not the truth. S.E.R.E. attempts to prepare our Special Forces Troops for undergoing Illegal Tactics used by totalitarian regimes, and is completely voluntary. (UPDATE via Wapo: The Officers who run S.E.R.E. - Call it TORTURE!) The difference between a voluntary program meant to protect our troops and using those techniques on unwitting and unwilling detainees is like the difference between a consensual act and a violent rape. It's obscene.
False Claim 4: Two of the people who were Waterboarded gave us information that saved American Lives.
Yet again the key information supposedly gleaned from Zubaydah, was the identity of KSN - however that was before waterboarding was used. The key piece of information from KSM was the Library Tower attack, yet that attack had already been stopped.
Zubaydah was also to source for our capturing Jose Padilla, and this too occurred before harsh methods were employed. In fact it appears that we got pretty much Bupkis from him once things got "heavy".
From the WaPo.
But FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA's harsh treatment intensified in late 2002.
In legal papers prepared for a military hearing, Abu Zubaida himself has asserted that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the treatment stop.
Further, this isn't just about "Waterboarding" - Geneva prohibits "All Affronts to Personal Dignity" and all forms of torture including psychological torture. Exceeding this is a War Crime. Stress positions, sleep deprivation, hypothermia and the exploitation phobias and fears (dogs, insects) can lead to a psychotic break in the subject (as may have occurred with Jose Padilla) renal failure, heart-attack, stroke and/or death. Autopsy reports of detainees all across the various theater's of conflict indicate that in 2005 over 40 detainees had died in custody, largely as a result of mistreatment and that at least 20 of those appeared to have died as a result of HOMICIDE, most likely while being interrogated by CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence.
False Claime #5: Our Intellegence Gathering and Nation has been hurt by release of these memos.
Cheney refers to this Op-ed, by former Bush AG Mukasey and former CIA Chief Hayden which claims:
Disclosure of the techniques is likely to be met by faux outrage, and is perfectly packaged for media consumption. It will also incur the utter contempt of our enemies. Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.
This claim is directly contradicted by the in-the-field experience of interrogator Matthew Alexander who was able to establish a rapport with an Iraqi insurgent within a few hours and managed to use that information to take down Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the head of AQI.
I refused to participate in such (brutal) practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.
Exactly what Cheney, Mukasey and Hayden claim won't work - Does Work! Further, what they claim is "so effective" has according Alexander directly led to the death of American soldiers.
I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.
False Claim #6: The Techniques were limited and carefully controlled
The clear goal of using doctors and psychiatrist during the interrogation process was not to keep them from being in discomfort, it was clearly to prevent them from dying too quickly so that the interrogations could continue on and on and on. Far from being Limited, KSM was waterboarded 183 Times within 30 days and Zubaydah over 83 times. Besides according to Yoo, the only way it could be "torture" is if some of them actually did - DIE. (Which some did!)
False Claim #7: The Program had Broad-based Support within the Higher-ups of the Administration, including all members of the National Security Council
Not if you count Secretary of State Colin Powell, the only member of the Bush NSC with Military experience, who strongly opposed invalidating the Geneva Conventions as did numerous members of the Military.
False Claim #8: These techniques were done to our own people (via S.E.R.E.) and they were not "Tortured".
S.E.R.E. was developed from Torture done to our own people by the communists as mentioned above, but a review of CIA prisons by the International Red Cross, which is the entity empowered by Geneva to identify torture, clearly shows - We Tortured Them.
The Red Cross found that detainees were held for up to four years in secret prisons, were frequently made to stand for several days in positions evidently intended to cause pain, and were threatened with "electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and ... being brought close to death."
This was also confirmed by Military Judge Susan Crawford.
We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case" for prosecution. [...]
False Claim #9: Revealing these techniques will allow our enemies to train to withstand them.
First off, if the techniques are so effective - how can you train to withstand them? Further, since the techniques have been effectively banned not only by Obama's adoption of the Army Field Manual for the CIA, but also the Detainee Treatment Act - why should it matter what they train for, when we aren't using these techniques anymore anyway?
False Claim #10: Al Qeada doesn't follow Geneva so why should we?
Geneva doesn't require that those you are fighting against, also abide by Geneva - it applies to the actions of the signers, not the actions of the non-signatories. Also, Al-Qeada might not be the only enemy we ever face in the future, and if we can choose not to abide by Geneva just because we don't feel like it anymore - what is there to stop anyone else from doing the exact same thing, including current signatories? Future despots can and will use Cheney-esque argument to mistreat and abuse our soldiers and the soldiers of our allies, and because we've abdicated our authority on the matters, there's little we can do to stop it other than to say "Stop" and look ridiculous.
All taken together this is a devastating array of lies at worst, and deluded denial of facts and truth at best which has helped enable and continue a world-wide atrocity. It can't be allowed to stand, any repetition of these baseless talking points need to be taken down and taken down Hard.
Update: Bonus False Claim (From Following Section of O'Donnel Interview: That the events at Abu Ghraib were in no way connected to changes made in Bush Policy.
As shown by the ACLU's Torture Timeline.
Following Bush's determination that "Geneva Doesn't Apply" and various memos from Gonzales, Yoo and Bybee authorized and justifyed the use of a variety of harsh interrogation methods which were first tested on Zubaydah in Thailand, these were then exported in response to requests from the commanders at GTMO. Following that request in Dec of 2002 SECDEF Rumsfeld authorized new techniques such as hooding, stress positions, nudity, the use of phobias, dogs, sensory deprivation, environmental controls (hypothermia), sexual humiliation as a way to "soften up" detainees.
On that memo Rumsfeld handwrote..."I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?" Rumsfeld used a "standing desk" for doing his work, the problem with his argument is that he has freedom to move and shift positions, but in a standing stress position the subjects movements are limited which can over the coarse of time induce renal failure and death. That's why the 4-hour limit.
In January of 2003 the commander at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan officially implemented the new Rumsfeld's techniques going far beyond the Army Field Manual, which is written to be consistent with Geneva. This ultimately results in the death of several detainees (A clear violation of even the "Bybee Standard").
In August of 2003 on recommendations from Lt. Gen Sanchez, Rumsfeld sent the commander of Guantanamo (Gen. Miller) to Abu Ghraib to Gitmo-ize it. The new commander removed the authority of the standard base commander Gen. Kaprinski over the "Hard Site" and positions the MP's handling prisoners there under the command of Military Intelligence, then proceeded to implement The same tactics Rumsfeld had previously approved for GITMO and Bagram
The pictures that we all saw at Abu Ghraib, the hooding, the nudity, and stress positions were all authorized by Rumsfeld and exported to the Hard Site on his orders. The argument has long been that this wasn't an "Intelligence Mission" because those who were mistreated clearly were not high-value members of al Qaeda, but using his sources journalist Sy Hersh (who first broke the Abu Ghraib story) has found the explanation for all this. In his book "Chain of Command" he argues that this treatment was intended to be used a s blackmail (hence all the pictures and photos) against low-value targets who would them be released and coerced into becoming spies against the insurgency.
The original idea behind the sexually humiliating photos taken at Abu Ghraib, Hersh said he had heard, was to use them as blackmail so that the newly released prisoners - many of whom were ordinary Iraqi thieves or even civilian bystanders rounded up in dragnets - would act as informants. "We operate on guilt, [Muslims] operate on shame," Hersh explained. "The idea of photographing an Arab man naked and having him simulate homosexual activity, and having an American GI woman in the photographs, is the end of society in their eyes."
Abu Ghraib was no boating accident, it was a Covert Op.
This is why even in while putting together the Taguba Report, investigators into Abu Ghraib were prohibited from looking at the actions and motivations of higher-ups, and instead told to focus on scapegoats like Grainer and England who were for the most part only doing what Un-ranked Military Intelligence Officers had instructed them to do.