Friday, May 22, 2009


Dick Cheney in his speech yesterday claimed that his "enhanced interrogations" were "legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do." This statement is false in each of its parts. Thanks to Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel of McClatchy for their article on Cheney's misstatements.

Each one of Cheney's characterizations of his methods - throwing people against the wall, waterboarding them, stuffing them in small boxes, and otherwise subjecting them to cruel and inhuman treatment - is wrong and false.

First. These techniques were not "legal," notwithstanding legal blessing opinions from Cheney's lawyers who tried to give a veneer of legality to practices clearly illegal and against human rights and dignity. No one can ever justify waterboarding as "legal." It was torture back 600 years ago when churchmen did it to suspected heretics and witches, and it is the same today.

Cheney says his methods were "essential." To what? No professional interrogator relies on torture to elicit information. Why? Because the person being tortured will tell anything his interrogator wants. To prove this point, let's subject Dick Cheney or even Liz Cheney to 60 seconds of waterboarding. Tell them we know they were complicit with Osama bin Laden. We want them to tell all they know. I am sure they will confess everything and then some.

Cheney says his methods were "justified." In other words, waterboarding was the appropriate response to these victims. Remember the Inquisition's leaders believed their waterboarding of people suspected in consort with the devil was also "justified." Looking back over the centuries, nothing ever could "justify" torture.

Cheney says waterboarding was "successful." There has been no evidence to date that Cheney's dark methods produced any information that was not known or discovered beforehand. And officials from the FBI and National Intelligence Agency have refused to say that waterboarding or slamming prisoners into walls produced anything of value.

No, Dick Cheney, your methods of torture were not "the right thing to do." They were wrong, they were illegal, they were torture.

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