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Cheney Torture Tour Comes to CBS

If torture saved American lives, was it worth it? That, with the words "enhanced interrogation" instead of torture, is the question former vice president Dick Cheney wants people considering when the subject of the Bush-era interrogation practices comes up.

Cheney is obviously betting -- with some justification -- that enough Americans would answer "yes" to that question that the debate over torture -- and the push for an official wide-scale investigation -- will never be able to gain critical mass.

As it turns out, there is not one bit of hard evidence that Bush-era torture averted a single imminent threat or saved any lives. But Cheney is not troubled by this fact, and neither are his hand-picked media interlocutors, who should be demanding that he put up or shut up.

Regardless, the real genius of Cheney's approach is that keeping the media debate to this narrow question is a victory. Because if the question were an appropriately broader one, the public would likely be much less sympathetic. Consider, for instance, if the question were about the abusive techniques widely and sometimes indiscriminately employed not just at CIA black sites but in places like the Bagram prison in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib.

Cheney's latest stop on his media tour was with Bob Schieffer of CBS News's Face the Nation, for an interview in which Cheney was largely allowed once again to make his argument that President Obama is endangering Americans without citing one iota of independently verifiable anything.

Schieffer did ask one tough question: "What do you say to those, Mr. Vice President, who say that when we employ these kinds of tactics, which are after all the tactics that the other side uses, that when we adopt their methods, that we're weakening security, not enhancing security, because it sort of makes a mockery of what we tell the rest of the world?"

Cheney is getting so cocky that he didn't even bother to reject the conflict implicit in Schieffer's question -- the one between Bush-era tactics and our standing as champions of human dignity. Cheney just snapped back: "Well, then you'd have to say that, in effect, we're prepared to sacrifice American lives rather than run an intelligent interrogation program that would provide us the information we need to protect America."

Sacrifice actionable intelligence for some abstract idea like human rights? Nonsense, says the former veep, who also expresses no regrets. "I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I'm convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives." raises a very good question: Why should we believe Cheney this time?

Cheney also said he'd pick right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh as a Republican spokesman over former secretary of state Colin Powell. "I didn't know he was still a Republican," Cheney said of Powell.

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 11, 2009; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Torture  
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If the Bush administrations leaders don't think (or can't bring themselves to admit) they did something wrong by authorizing torture then neither will their followers. This is why torture must be investigated and a clear stance made that it is wrong no matter who or what party is in power.

Posted by: ideallydc | May 11, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Dear darling Dick, nothing if not consistent. If he'd brought about armageddon, I could picture him in his bunker saying, "I think we made the right call."

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 11, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

..."these kinds of tactics, which are after all the tactics that the other side uses..." Wrong. The "other" side beheads their captives, dismembers them, and hangs their burned bodies from bridges. Quite a contrast from depriving our captives of sleep and pouring water on their faces. Schieffer does not know what he is talking about and establishes a false comparison.

Posted by: diehlwithit | May 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Boobs like Cheney will never understand that the end never justifies the means and, in his arguments for the use of torture, even the ends are of dubious merit. How this man is allowed to continue spewing his filth is beyond me. Apparently celebrity, or notoriety, is enough to give someone airtime no matter what the validity of his ideas. Go back to your cave Dick.

Posted by: DOBRYDN | May 11, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Cheney was extolling the charms of Rush Limbaugh on the interview snippet I saw -- big, fat stupid Rush Limbaugh -- another myocardial infarction waiting to happen -- as the new, or old, Republican prototype.

Maybe it's allegory, or maybe Dick is just nuts, marginalized by the minute.

LISTEN to the things he says, his paranoia driven political simplicity -- this guy is responsible for the Middle East we now see, and this kook was Vice President, president really, telling Bush what to do...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 11, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

the end never justifies the means

Never??? We dropped 2 Atomic bombs on Japan that killed over 240,000 people mainly civilians. At any other time that would be hard to justify.. but it did END WWII. Saved probably 100 of thousands of Americans lives if we invaded and even probably saved millions of Japanese lives.
I'd say that is a pretty good example...

How this man is allowed to continue spewing his filth is beyond me
Because he's the former Vice President. I'm sure all talk shows even left leaning ones on MSNBC would love to have Cheney on. And say this apout the guy.. unlike Pelosi who is LYING about what she knew and when she knew it.. Cheney is coming right out and defending it. Froomkin is only pissed because Cheney is winning the argument with the American people...

Posted by: sovine08 | May 11, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I wish one reporter would ask Cheney the following question

"Mr. Cheney, why didnt you do anything with the information you had about the threats al-queda posed to this country before the September 11th attacks?"

I for one would like to hear the answer to that question.

Posted by: rharring | May 11, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that we survived our insane man, Cheney. Let him continue his tour and further show off how totally "mad" me is. Poor Dick.

Posted by: mstratas | May 11, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Did sovine08 just basically come out with "say what you want about Cheney but at least he tells the truth"? I haven't been this speechless since my last boss challenged me to name a single thing Bush did wrong. This is why there's no arguing with flat-earthers.

Personally I hope Cheney continues his whistlestop torture tour. Every time he flashes that crooked semi-grin on TV it reminds the public that we're in pretty good shape, all things considered.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | May 11, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Cheney on Limbaugh over Colin Powell is like defining Republican Purity as the Nazis did with Aryan Purity.

If this keeps up, it will be the sound of one hand clapping for the Repubs.

Posted by: Spectator | May 11, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Did sovine08 just basically come out with "say what you want about Cheney but at least he tells the truth"?
No what I basically said is unlike Pelosi were we get a new variation seems like every week.. first she said she was never was told we waterboarded.. then she was told but only as something we could do not already did.. and now.. yes she was told we did but it was legal.. Cheney as soon as it was declassified.. said yes we did and yes he approved it. As far as it being successful he has asked for those records to be declassified. Doesn't sound to me, unlike Pelosi, like he is a guy running away or hiding. Of course since you only believe guys like Froomkin or I guess Olbermann.. does the truth really matter???

Posted by: sovine08 | May 11, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really care what Cheney the DICK thinks? He has disgraced the nation, committed war crimes, and is an embarrassment to humanity. He picked a bigoted, hateful, AM radio gasbag over a true American hero. Is it any wonder that the GOP is in the trouble it is? Is this what the GOP means by values? The values of Cheney and Limbaugh? If they don’t change direction soon, the GOP will be RIP.

Posted by: russ_broadway | May 11, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is coming right out and defending it. Froomkin is only pissed because Cheney is winning the argument with the American people...
Posted by: sovine08 | May 11, 2009 2:49 PM
Cheney is losing the argument. Americans do NOT support torture and do support the Geneva Convention. I only wish our government would support it and arrest war criminal pigs like Cheney.

Posted by: russ_broadway | May 11, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@sovine08: "Of course since you only believe guys like Froomkin or I guess Olbermann.. does the truth really matter???"

That's where I differ from you and most Republicans, chief - I don't take anyone at their word unless past performance suggests it's safe to do so. So when it comes to making decisions, I don't believe Froomkin, Olbermann, Cheney, or anyone else in the political sphere.

I guess it counts as a positive quality in your book that Cheney can avoid telling small lies by telling a giant one up front ("enhanced interrogation techniques"). Whatever floats your boat.. just don't assume everyone else has the same lax standards for truth.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | May 11, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

regarding these alleged knowingly criminal acts of torture, is it possible dick 'the impaler' cheney would prefer to 'Face The Nation' on CBS rather than in a court of law?

[guess the 'smart' money would have to be on cheney -- if he could evade the draft 5 times and avoid serving any jail time for drunk driving after 3 convictions, he'll likely dodge this torture thing as well -- and as luck would have it, this dedicated life-long public servant's 5 years as CEO of Halliburton resulted in his personal fortune estimated between $30-100 million (wikipedia); good old dick may never have to work again; this is one politician who has an excellent answer to the question: if you're so smart, why ain't you rich?]

Posted by: ithejury | May 11, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Cheney's line about Powell referred to Powell's lack of "loyalty".

This is the crux of Cheney's argument. The loyal republicans will rally and agree. Cheney banked 8 years on the fact that a certain percentage of the population will remain loyal to the party, and therefore Bush/Cheney policy, just because Bush/Cheney wrap themselves in the flag, a self-serving relationship with God, and are party leaders.

This concept that loyalty must remain absolute in order for you to remain a Republican is really like "totalitarianism light". They aren't really totalitarians, they just incorporate the game plan and will castigate you from the party if you disagree - once!

The writing is on the wall that the number of Americans who want to remain loyal Republicans is dwindling fast. It may serve Cheney to fire up the base to run interference while he rides his snowmobile off into the sunset in Yellowstone, but it doesn't help anyone else.

I would say that the members of the party that will be wanting to run for some office in any foreseeable future had better get a sock in Cheney's pie-hole, lickity-freakin-split.

Posted by: farkdawg | May 11, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

It is well documented that:

--Dick Cheney was still on the Halliburton payroll when he awarded Halliburton an exclusive contract for oil services work in Iraq six months before the invasion.

--That Dick Cheney was CEO when Halliburton set up its office in Tehran to service the Iranian oil industry, violating the "Trading-With-the-Enemy" law.

--That Dick Cheney was still on the Halliburton payroll when the U.S. government quashed an investigation of the gang rape and armed detention of the victim in a Halliburton container.

--That Dick Cheney was still on the Halliburton payroll when the company set up lethal electrical showers for U.S. service personnel.

--That Halliburton was the service provider that hired the gunmen who murdered several U.S. service members at a chow line in Iraq.

--That Dick Cheney was still on the Halliburton payroll when the company ordered its truck drivers into areas of violent combat without military protection.

--That Dick Cheney does not care what the American people think about the war in Iraq (see Martha Radditz interview).

--That Dick Cheney designed and implemented the torture program that has discredited the United States and violated numerous laws, including the highest, the U.S. Constitution.

--That Dick Cheney is an unrepentant war criminal whom no one has held to account for his crimes.

Posted by: motorfriend | May 11, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The new line of Banana Republican attack is that Pelosi knew about it and didn't stop it as if she were actually in charge. The fact of the matter is Harman and Pelosi issued letters of protest to the White House, which is all they really could do short of breaking the law by releasing classified information and blowing the whistle publicly. And we all know how well Bush and his media enablers treated whistle blowers.

The basics:

Is waterboard torture? Yes.
Is torture illegal? Yes.
Did the US Government authorize waterboarding? Yes.
Did the US Government authorize and conduct illegal activities? Yes.
Does the US Government have an obligation to prosecute or extradite torturers for prosecution under the UN Convention Against Torture signed by President Ronald Reagan? Yes.

Posted by: troyd2009 | May 11, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Schieffer replaces Russert as Cheney's go-to MSM guy for dissemination of disinformation.

Chickenhawk. Five deferments. Other priorities. What? Working on personal Mein Kampf of Torture? Nixon era refugee. Outing CIA agent. Lying us into war. Crooked contracts. Big Oil. Halliburton. KBR. Green Zone.

Thank goodness he didn't convince Bush to declare martial law before he left the Observatory.

Posted by: Patriot3 | May 11, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

First, to bait the wingnuts: tell me again about the connection between al Quaeda and Saddam Hussein; tell me again about the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; and tell me the story about how the American troops will be greeted with flowers and sweets by the Iraqis. How I loved that story! Then tell me how truthful Cheney is, I need a good laugh!

Second, to taunt the lefties: who are you referring to as a "true American hero", surely not the Secretary of State who lied to the U.N. and the world as to the reasons for the imminent American invasion of a sovereign nation which posed no threat to America? And that lie that "Americans do NOT support torture" could have been spoken by Cheney himself! Read all of the polls, ask your neighbors, Americans do largely support torture!

All of you extremists, wingnuts and lefties, shut out reality!!

Posted by: frazeysburger | May 11, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is losing the argument. Americans do NOT support torture and do support the Geneva Convention. I only wish our government would support it and arrest war criminal pigs like Cheney.
Posted by: russ_broadway
Really??? Not according to the CNN opinon poll taken 5/7/09.. "It's time to move forward, as President Obama says, according to 55 percent of Americans surveyed in a CNN/Opinion Research poll, but there may not be much to look back at: Americans support the Bush administration's harsh techniques 50-46 percent. And 20 percent are okay with "torture":" You see I don't believe Cheney is losing a minute of sleep over being arrested for war crimes...

Posted by: sovine08 | May 11, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

ithejury wrote:"regarding these alleged knowingly criminal acts of torture, is it possible dick 'the impaler' cheney would prefer to 'Face The Nation' on CBS rather than in a court of law?"

I begin to wonder what will Messers Cheney, Bolton,and their co-conspirators will do, when, under oath in Spain, or in some American court convened to get them a trial in this country so that they avoid a trial in Spain, they are asked about their actions, and it occurs to them that their so confident responses so far are the equivalent of a signed confession. If a perp pleads the fifth, a jury is certainly permitted to accept that the public testimony in the affirmative to the question "Did you have a part in the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib?" is thereby something he knows is a criminal act.

And, for that matter, what do Spanish Law, (which is straight out of Roman Law, which does permit coerced testimony incriminating the testee) or the laws constituting the ICJ have that approximates the fifth amendment?

When you got out of the bank with the cash, it is poor tactics to spend it as you identify its source.

Posted by: ceflynline | May 11, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Killed half a million Iraqi civilians and he is convinced that he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Quagmired in two wars up to our ears with no end in sight, ever, and he is convinced he did the right thing. This man will babble till the statue of limitations shifts to his favor. Then he will dissapere into the night. He is a war criminal, along with Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld and Rice. The world will not forget.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | May 11, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Once the next round of photos are released, showing how widespread the abuse of detainees was throughout American military bases overseas, the public will begin to make the connection between Cheney and Rumsfeld, and the pointless abuse of prisoners. I do think Dick-Dick is trying to steal a march on the photo release, and change the topic before they become public knowledge. As Froomkin's suggested many times--if any concrete link between the OLC memos and prisoner abuse overseas is ever made, those Bush criminals are toast.

I do agree with you, bigtunatim, on being skeptical in general. I tend to be more liberal in my views but everyone in Washington's a politician first and foremost, including Obama. Only a fool accepts any of their words uncritically. But I think the magnitude and depth of the whoppers that Cheney and his cabal have tried to force down the American public's throat dwarf anything that their political opponents have tried. And I am certainly waiting to see how many of his promises Obama lives up to, or fails to.

As for Pelosi, I've heard conflicting accounts of how much she knew, or didn't, or what power she had to change anything regardless. What I do say is that if any truth commission, or something similar, is started up, she should absolutely be subject to it, along with the rest of Washington leadership at the time it was happening.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 11, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I'll go with Cheney every time over the Hate-America press.

Thank the Lord these guys were subjected to the proper means to elicit information that saved American lives. The proof is in the fact that numerous attacks were successful in foreign countries where security was lax, and not a single one occurred here after 9/11

Posted by: braunstuart | May 11, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

There's no proof whatsoever that any of this torture worked, Stuart. And you couldn't be any more wrong to say the press, or the critics of the Cheney/Bush regime, hate America. I, and I suspect most all of the others who despise everything Cheney did, love this country. We love it enough to hate despotic (yes, despotic--done in almost total secrecy) and barbaric activities done in its name. We love the USA enough to want those who perpetrated such acts to be publicly shamed, and punished, so as to show the rest of the world, and future generations, that this is a nation of laws. Laws, not the caprice of those in power (in Bush's case, not even legitimately elected).

We also love the world enough to aknowledge that other nations' opinions of this country we love matter. Make no mistake: following treaty obligations is of no account to terrorists like in al-Qaeda. They know no treaties, and no laws but their own. But in those cases where we are dealing with other nations, like Iran, North Korea, China and Russia, it's helpful that we've not abrogated every treaty we're party to. After all, cooperations among nations is one of the most effective means we have to combat terrorism. We can't do it all alone, you know?

That, unfortunately, is yet another of Dick-Dick's tragic misconceptions. He doesn't acknowledge persuasion, consensus, or cooperation. He knows only threat and coercion.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 11, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

You can argue about whether the torture we did was acceptable in comparison to al-Qaeda in Iraq or in comparison to the Holocaust - in any case it's against the law. It's against the law whether it saved a million lives or no lives. Those of us who believe that we are a nation of laws don't care whether Pelosi knew or didn't know. If she is guilty of complicity in torture, she needs to be tried. Since Cheney has already admitted that both he and Bush are guilty of torture, I'm not sure how the legal proceeding would go.

Posted by: dickdata | May 11, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Cheney is cherry-picking the intelligence.

It took Dick Cheney 931 days from 9/11 until he sat down - without oath or transcription - before the 9/11 Commission.

Having established this precedent, we can all wait 931 days until November of 2011 before Obama releases the 2 CIA documents that Cheney claims exonerate him.

Meanwhile the invasion of Iraq is evidence that Dick Cheney's methods got the intelligence wrong again and again.

Dickdata, you hit it on the head. We are a nation of laws. If we are principled nation we will prosecute Cheney and Bush and whoever flaunted our laws.

Posted by: boscobobb | May 12, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Ask yourself the question: Why does Dick Cheney even bother to warn the American people about how our security is being weakened?
He doesn't need money, fame, interns-and his political career is at an end.
It's his love of country that moves him to speak. He fears for his family-and yours.
The advanced interrogation methods DID stop an attack on Las Angeles.
We don't cut off fingers or heads.
And as for asking questions about before 9/11-ask Bill Clinton and HIS administration. The FIRST Twin Tower bombing and the USS Cole bombings happened on his watch.
But he was a little -shall we say-distracted with Monica Lewinski, Paula Jones and all the rest of his concubines.

Posted by: CoolPillow | May 12, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Moveon is right: Dick has no credibility left. None. No one who has not been living under a rock for the last eight years would believe anything Dick said merely because he said it.

However if the Republic party would like to be marginalized even further, Dick should definitely go on spouting his self-serving nonsense. Sure it was that way, Dick! We believe you! Both of us.

The facts of course are otherwise. There is almost no evidence that stands up to scrutiny that says torture saved a single American life. There is on the other hand substantial evidence that torture lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans.

The link between American torture of Iraqi prisoners and the U.S. death toll in Iraq as described by a lead U.S. interrogator in Iraq, who used the pseudonym “Matthew Alexander” for a Washington Post Outlook article on Nov. 30, 2008.

“Torture and abuse cost American lives,” Alexander wrote. “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.”

Posted by: jpk1 | May 12, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Its true!!! we got some important information from terrorist suspects.

But what is even most important is, that we got 99% of it without any torture and before the torture part. That is something that Dick Chenney is not saying to us. His orders were to torture more for more information, but they never got it with it any further. He sving some lives; I can just count every single human detah with name, because of him and Bush.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | May 13, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Chenney, thanks for all the safety you have provided to us. Indeed we were our little tiny boxes, peeking thru the small poked holes.
Oh what about freedom....we didn't really feel so free? Of yes, you can't provide freedom and safety at same time. Well, we don't neither then.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | May 13, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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