Meh Culpa

A Dick on Torture: Jim Lehrer interviews Cheney

An excerpt from last night’s “News Hour” on PBS.

MR. LEHRER: A specific question related to that: Lead story in the Washington Post this morning is about a Bush administration official, Susan Crawford, who said, on the record, that she had recommended against charging one of the detainees at Guantanamo, a native of Saudi Arabia, because he had, in fact, been tortured at Guant

Meh Culpa: Susan Crawford was recommending against charging Qatani because once an individual has been tortured, the evidence gained is unreliable.  Or not worth admitting into evidence because it’s suspect.

And she made this comment, here – let me find it; here it is – this is Susan Crawford, who used to work for you, I understand, right?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: She worked at the department when I was there, correct.

MR. LEHRER: When you were at the Pentagon. She said, “I think someone should acknowledge that mistakes were made and that they hurt the effort,” meaning the whole effort in Guantanamo and dealing with the terrorists, quote, “and take responsibility for it.” End quote. Do you agree with her?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t know the specifics of what she’s talking about.

MR. LEHRER: You have never heard about this Saudi Arabia –

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I had heard about this individual before. This is Mr. Qatani, who was the 20th hijacker. He tried to get into the United States so he could get on one of the airplanes on 9/11 and fly into the Pentagon or the World Trade Center. He was stopped by an alert customs agent in Florida, I believe. I’m also, as I recall – I read the article this morning – that she said all of the techniques that were utilized were authorized.

Meh Culpa: In terms of the “value” of this “enemy combatant,” he’d be the last person you’d want to torture because you’d want good information.  Unfortunately, you might learn his knowledge was limited because he was part of a cell and perhaps had no contact with higher-ups. This could be frustrating, but it wouldn’t be worth torturing the individual and compromising American values.

None of them were in violation of the basic fundamental tenets that we used out there. She was, as I understand it, complaining about the way in which – well, specifically, the way in which they were administered – I don’t have any way to judge that; I’m sure that the Defense Department has or will thoroughly investigate it and get to the bottom of it.

They’re very good at those sort of things. So it’s entirely possible there was a problem in terms of how one specific prisoner was handled. I can’t claim perfection. But what I can say is that in terms of what the policies of the administration were, both at the White House level and at the Defense Department, was that enhanced interrogation was okay.

Meh Culpa: The comment that “enhanced interrogation” was okay because White House and DOD policy said was, is disingenuous at best. At worst it is a bald-faced lie. I’m going with the bald-faced lie.  Moreover, Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly pointed out that “enhanced interrogation” was the term used by the Gestapo for their torture techniques–and the same used by the US and authorized by the Bush administration.

We had specific techniques that were approved by the Justice Department – but that we don’t torture and that we would not support torture from the standpoint of policy. It was not the policy of this administration.

We’ve seen evidence of the administration’s inestimably tortured logic on many occasions (i.e., Cheney is his own branch of government. Whew!).  Here we have doublespeak for “We have approved techniques that have been illegal for almost forever, techniques the Nazis used on their prisoners, but they aren’t torture because we say they aren’t. You believe us, right? Yay!”

Just because the president says it’s legal doesn’t mean it is. Remember Nixon?  And even though Addington and Yoo knew that almost every single interrogator would never “intend to inflict severe pain and suffering,” (which ostensibly would have gotten the interrogators off the hook in a war crimes trial) for them to study it, and say it is legal doesn’t mean it is.

MR. LEHRER: But just, for a general premise here, looking back, you don’t – nothing happened that you feel was over the line or that you feel that was a miscalculation or mistake of some kind?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, in terms of the treatment of a specific individual, I can’t say that. (Oh, yeah. Because there was only one…) We had Abu Ghraib, for example. In that case, I believe, based on what I’ve seen, that that was the result of some military personnel who were improperly supervised – weren’t given the right kind of guidance, weren’t managed properly.

As we dig in and look at hundreds of cases, we may well find a few people who were not properly treated. (A few, huh?) You know, I ran the Pentagon. I know that you can’t absolutely guarantee, at all times, that everybody’s doing it the way they’re supposed to be doing it.

(Oh, really. You can’t can you? So it’s just a few people lower on the totem pole who are responsible for torture?  The Word didn’t come from the top?)

I can tell you what the policy was; I can tell you that we had all the legal authorization we needed to do it, including the sign-off of the Justice Department. I can tell you it produced phenomenal results for us, and that a great many Americans are alive today because we did all that. And I think those are the important considerations.

Meh Culpa: Alberto Gonzalez doesn’t even understand the Constitution. Gonzalez is the same rat bastard who told G.W. Bush that the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to captured members of the Taliban because the group wasn’t recognized as rulers of the “failed state.”  This is the same bozo who thinks that because the war on terror–a phrase we’re not supposed to use anymore, unless we are–is a “new paradigm,” the Geneva Convention is “obsolete” and “quaint.”

That’s where you got your legal authorization, D I C K.


Also, the “detainees” (a euphemism for POW) whom the US has released due to lack of evidence or because they’ve been tortured and the “evidence” they spewed isn’t admissable in court, whether they were innocent or guilty, are now  joining the resistance.  How is that saving Americans, D I C K?  How are those “phenomenal results”?

MR. LEHRER: And you’re personally very comfortable with that?


MR. LEHRER: For what happened and the reasons it happened and the end result?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: In terms of the interrogation, generally?

MR. LEHRER: Yes, absolutely.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: General policy?

MR. LEHRER: General policy.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Absolutely.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Abu Ghraib, Bush administration, Cheney, corruption, Defense, Executive branch, Geneva Conventions, Iran, Iraq War, political operatives, politics, torture, US Constitution, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meh Culpa: On the indictment of Cheney and Gonzales

I’ll admit to a touch of schadenfreude and a fair amount of giddiness, but this indictment’s small potatoes.  According to TPM, the DA in South Texas has himself been arrested and the charges aren’t exactly direct, so maybe nothing big will come of it.

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  There’s been all sorts of talk about the possibility that Obama will launch an investigation against the players in the Bush administration who approved torture or allow a commission to take its own sweet time sifting through the piles of evidence or let Justice investigate.  Or not, to all of those.  But maybe there’s a snowball in hell where this indictment came from.

I can hope.

Should nothing of merit develop here, I’d especially like to see other countries press charges as France did against Rumsfeld so the players can’t travel outside the USA.  I don’t care for having them around, but we grew ’em so we should keep ’em.

Update: Inside Ritmo, the immigrant detention in Raymondsville, TX, to which Cheney is connected by investing in Vanguard, Inc. According to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Vanguard  holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It [the indictment] accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies. says that Gonzales is accused of halting an investigation into one of the private prisons while he was at Justice. Cheney’s spokesperson had no comment and Gonzales’  lawyer is said to have denied any culpability on the part of his client. Oh yeah, and none of the indictments were signed by the judge.  Pathetic.

If the indictment goes anywhere, which is doubtful, this will be the first successful case of plausible deniability in ages.

November 19, 2008 Posted by | Bush administration, politics | , , , , | Leave a comment


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