Cheney’s Cherry-Pick

picture-126.thumbnail.pngWIndy has put the two documents Dick Cheney wanted released up (or go to CCR’s somewhat clearer versions).

The most important thing to understand about these documents–aside from the very, um, finished feel that graphics like the one on the left give it–is the timing. The first one came just after (July 17, 2004) the release of the IG Report and was, significantly, an attempt to rationalize the torture program. And the other came at a time (June 3, 2005) when Congress was increasingly pressuring the Administration to bring the torture program under CAT guidelines prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment.

So they’re big PR pieces, boasting of how important KSM is to their fight against terror, boasting of how much information they’ve gotten from detainees. 

The pieces do (and I suspect would even more so if not so heavily redacted) sort of contradict themselves. For example, the 2005 document reveals that "almost immediately following his capture in March 2003, [KSM] elaborated on his plot to crash commercial jets into Heathrow."

The IG Report, in its section on efficacy, says, 

On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete.

So which is correct? The claim, made in 2004, that this early info was outdated? Or the claim made in 2005 that it was worthwhile?

As Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Gitanjali Gutierrez says of them:

These are the documents Dick Cheney was so excited to see declassified, but they don’t make the case for torture, they only show that the CIA is able to tailor documents to justify its actions after the fact. The descent into torture has made the world a darker and more dangerous place for everyone.

Have fun with these. I’m going to head out and do some drinking to celebrate mr. ew’s very successful defense of his Master’s Thesis today. I’ll have way more on all this tomorrow.

48 replies
  1. scribe says:

    When Deadeye said “Torture worked” (or, I guess, “the interrogation program worked”) the structure of his sentence was the most noteworthy part of it.

    Anyone with eyes knew he was bullshitting to cover his and his subordinates’ asses. But that’s not really relevant.

    What’s relevant is the lack of telling us – ever – what the torture program “worked” to provide.

    He never says “it worked to provide timely intelligence of a pending attack.”

    He never says “it worked to explicate the command (or financial, or communications) structure of al Qaeda.” which, could then be used to fight it.

    He never says even that “it worked to scare the shit out of potential recruits to al Qaeda.”

    Just “it worked.”

    Which tells me it did work, but only to accomplish Deadeye’s own goals here, stateside:

    the normalization of torture as appropriate governmental conduct,
    the bureaucratic warfare of removing from positions of authority or influence those who would oppose Deadeye and his crew from acting as dictators,
    seditiously replacing constitutional government with rule by secret law and secret decree (also known here as “Pixie Dust”),
    and similar goals.

    And, to the degree that those “local” goals were Deadeye’s goals, then torture did work. But it was never intended to yield usable, let alone actionable, intelligence. Watertorturing someone a year or more after he was captured will not yield anything other than the orgiastic pleasure the torturer might garner – directly or indirectly – from torturing.

    • bmaz says:

      There was a Meet the Press appearance where Cheney flat out said it worked to produce actionable intelligence. I have see nary a lick of support for that.

    • fatster says:

      More observations on what Dick “Dick” said (in italics) vs what he might have hoped people would think he said.

      The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda

      “That’s not the same as saying those techniques were how we got that intelligence.

      This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002.

      “Note: “a role.” Not, say, “a key role.” And again, note that Cheney’s not saying torture was how we got the information we needed from these people.

      The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States….

      “That would presumably include the non-torture activities as well as the torture activities.

      “He’s underselling it. Even in his effort to set the terms of the debate, he’s not declaring that torture worked. All he’s declaring is that torture was part of how we interrogated the people who gave us some of the information that was part of what we used to fight terrorism. “


  2. Jyrinx says:

    Beg pardon for copy-and-pasting my comment from the earlier thread, but I think I caught what’s going to be the central thrust (and weakness) of Cheney’s argument, and, well, it’s more relevant here :-)

    Watch out for this line of reasoning, from one of the appendices to the IG report (I don’t understand the numbering, but the page has “101-4″ scrawled on the lower-right; it’s page 26/33 in the Scribd upload):

    9. [redacted] On the question of whether actual plots had been thwarted, [redacted] opined that since the operatives involved in many of the above plots had been arrested, they have, in effect, thwarted the operation. The following captured terrorists were associated with plots:

    So, we nabbed these guys that these other guys said were going to do this stuff. Therefore that stuff was most definitely going to happen, and we most definitely prevented it by making the arrests.

    I’d bet good money that we’ll be seeing Cheney invoking precisely such circularities when he cites what he wanted declassified.

    • cinnamonape says:

      A similar statement in the Conclusions

      This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent. Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali, and Al-Nashiri,

      Nothing about EIT’s having produced the interrogation information critical to thwarting these attacks. In fact the capture might have been sufficient since these were “the planners”. There’s little evidence provided to suggest that anyone in the field who was part of these plots were ever rounded up. and many of these so-called plots had been long dead – Hambali’s Bojinka operation that Cheney cited (attack on buildings in LA) was revealed by a suspect who volunteered the information after a willful “defection”…And was pretty much impossible by that time. There were no trained pilots.

  3. Boston1775 says:

    Remdawg realizes the President may be watching the game:
    “so everytime the Red Sox get the White Sox out, we say, “So take that, Mr. President.”
    my heart….

  4. allan says:

    Alex, I’ll take Traitors for 20. Or is it Unintended Irony for 30?

    Q. What unprosecuted leaker of Valerie Plame’s identity said this about the very limited investigation Holder announced today?

    “I think the decision is disgusting. It’s amazing to me that the people who kept us safe may now become the people our government prosecutes. There are plenty of real criminals out there — it would be nice if the Justice Department went after them.”

    [And add my congrats to Mr. EW.]

  5. perris says:

    here’s where the conversation really needs to go though;

    how many terrorists and events were inspired because of our policies of torture, how long did those policies prolong unrest, how long before america can again be considered the moral adjudicators, how long before we can once again be considered honest brokers in international events

    and most important;

    how long before we can once again broker a treaty and expect that treaty be followed and enforced since we ourselves have proven we do neither

  6. bmaz says:

    Senator Short Ride Rape Gurney Joe “He’s With Us On Everything But The War” Lieberman has issued a statement on interrogation investigations:

    Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today expressed his strong disappointment in the U.S. Attorney General’s decision to name a prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations:

    “I respectfully regret this decision by Attorney General Holder and fear our country will come to regret it too because an open ended criminal investigation of past CIA activity, which has already been condemned and prohibited, will have a chilling effect on the men and women agents of our intelligence community whose uninhibited bravery and skill we depend on every day to protect our homeland from the next terrorist attack. Career prosecutors in the Department of Justice have previously reviewed allegations of abuse and concluded that prosecution was not warranted, with the exception of one CIA contractor who has already been convicted. President Obama has established clear guidelines to ensure that past abuses are not repeated and has stated his desire to look forward rather than backward.

    “We cannot take for granted the fact that our homeland has not been attacked since September 11, 2001. That has occurred only because of the constant vigilance and unflinching efforts by those brave individuals in our military, civilian homeland security and counterterrorism agencies, and the intelligence community. These public servants must of course live within the law but they must also be free to do their dangerous and critical jobs without worrying that years from now a future Attorney General will authorize a criminal investigation of them for behavior that a previous Attorney General concluded was authorized and legal.”

    Man, can’t tell you how glad I am that Obama and Reid fought hard to keep this guy vested in his seniority and chairs in the Senate. It has turned out so well….

    • Jyrinx says:

      What really burns me about that line of reasoning is that you know what he’d say if we then propose that we prosecute said Attorney General for authorizing torture. I mean, in the abstract case that Lieberman brings up where the operatives really are just doing as the AG said they could, I have more than no sympathy (not enough to override Nuremberg, but still; I’d hate to be in a position where I had to disobey orders). But if you’re saying they’re blameless because they were relying on the AG, then the AG had fucking well better be held responsible for every last act of torture.

      (Also, you notice he neatly glosses over the fact that the people being investigated weren’t even abiding by the torture memos. So the idea that we’re persecuting people for doing what the AG told them to is utter bullshit. But, of course, this is Lieberman we’re talking about.)

    • prostratedragon says:

      He could at least acknowledge that the prosecutor’s mission is not “open ended,” that being what many of us object to.

      The sullen disgust of the Bush years is being slowly replaced by really sullen disgust.

    • PJEvans says:

      Would he even know what to do if he was handed a rusty garden implement and told to use it on himself?

    • newtonusr says:

      In what way can Lieberman’s statement be distinguished from that of a Republican?
      Easy – Harry “He’s with us on everything but the country” Reid will clap Joe on the shoulder and proclaim that they are good friends, and will then offer him another committee chairmanship. The President will, of course, concur.

      Wait, that doesn’t exactly contrast with a Republican at all.


  7. Leen says:

    When you read how far Al Queda is willing to go first question that comes up in my mind is why do they hate us so much….what do they want…what country do they want us out of?

    Micheal Scheuer, Scott Ritter and others have often said that they don’t hate our freedoms they hate our foreign policy and what we do in their part of the world

  8. Leen says:

    Amy Goodman interviews Micheal Isikoff about the at that time soon to be released report. Listening now

    Goodman references Firedoglake during the interview

    “AMY GOODMAN: Firedoglake is saying that they have been holding it because the CIA has been reviewing it to protect John Rizzo’s role in crafting Office of Legal Counsel memos that claim to authorize torture, the outgoing general counsel for the CIA.

    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, we do know that John Rizzo, who was the acting general counsel of the CIA, was directly involved in these matters. He was the CIA lawyer who shows up on the memos that have been released as the one who was communicating with the Justice Department lawyers about how these memos would be written. And so, he—it would make sense that he would be directly involved. Whether the CIA is trying to protect him, as opposed to just generally protecting disclosures about these programs, is hard to know.

    It is worth noting that CIA Director Panetta, appointed by President Obama, has been leading the charge against disclosure of many of these matters. He fought the disclosure of the first batch of Justice Department memos that came out last spring. He has resisted disclosing operational cables that would shed light on the interrogation of, for example, Abu Zubaydah, who was the first detainee to be waterboarded. He has essentially been adopting the position of his agency in fighting, saying any further disclosures will demoralize the CIA and make it more difficult for it to do its job.”…..eveals_cia

  9. Gitcheegumee says:

    Ghosts on the Potomac:

    I posted the Army Stars and Stripes story about Obama hiring the Rendon Group(PR) to vet future journalists covering the Af-Pak war,over at the thread about Durham’s appointment as prosecutor.

    Here’s a kicker to the S&S Rendon story,compliments,Raw Story:

    Rendon is married to Sandra Libby,Scooter’s sister.

    You can read both of my posts over at FDL thread about Durham.

  10. Leen says:

    ot but not

    Why do the mucky mucks wonder why there is so much disrespect for the law amongst the regular folks. Let’s see the Bush administration criminals (hundreds of thousands dead base on a “pack of lies” walk. (well maybe not only time will tell)

    and Peltier is refused parole because “The US Parole Commission told the sixty-four-year-old Peltier on Friday that his release would “depreciate the seriousness of [his] offenses” and “promote disrespect for the law.” It was Peltier’s first full parole hearing in fifteen years, and he will not be eligible for parole again until July 2024, at the age of seventy-nine.”…..rd_peltier

    PROMOTE DISRESPECT FOR THE LAW…plenty of that going around and many reasons for it

  11. Gitcheegumee says:

    Its all in the “family”:

    Man who sold Iraq war now vetting embedded journos: report
    By Daniel Tencer

    Published: August 24, 2009
    Updated 5 hours ago

    A public relations firm that organized the opposition to Saddam Hussein during the 1990s and “coerced” journalists during the run-up to the Iraq war is now vetting at least some embedded journalists in war zones to keep out those who have a history of writing negative stories about the US military, a new report claims.

    “Any reporter seeking to embed with US forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group, which gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq for its work helping to create the Iraqi National Congress,” the military newspaper Stars & Stripes reports.


    According to the Center for Media and Democracy, John Rendon is married to Sandra Libby, the sister of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who in 2007 was convicted on obstruction of justice charges in the Valerie Plame affair.

    In that case, Libby was alleged to have leaked sensitive CIA information about former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, to the media in contravention of secrecy laws. Libby was not convicted on that charge, but rather on charges of obstructing the investigation into the matter.

  12. skdadl says:

    Congratulations to Mr Wheel!

    Lieberman — the pomposity is overwhelming. Do guys like him not know how gassy and insincere they sound to normal human beans?

    Someone should ask him what he proposes to do for those “brave individuals in our military, civilian homeland security and counterterrorism agencies” who refused and in some cases still are refusing to follow improper or illegal orders or who stood up to the bullies in the administration, thus risking and often ending their careers. That’s where I see the constant and unflinching vigilance in defence of the oath that all public servants in a democracy, including Lieberman, are supposed to be bound by.

  13. prostratedragon says:

    Defense congratulations, and thanks for providing the day with a bit of good news, somewhere.

  14. Jkat says:

    it’s unbelievable ..imo .. that people like yoo .. who hold PhD’s in law .. and others who are CIA “officers” who the minimum hold lesser degrees .. can read and be aware of the UNCAT and american statute law passed to implement it and buy off on such utter bullshit as “the Convention Against Torture does NOT outlaw cruel and unusual punishment ”

    who the fuck do those assholes think they’re kidding ??

    in defense of the CIA .. i note many of the “officers” involved had [very justifiable] fears that knowledge of what they had participated in would “harm their and the agency’s reputations” … and many were reluctant [maybe many refused ..they don’t say] to sully their careers by engaging in activities so blatantly illegal and so far beyond the pale of our national ideals and traditions ..

    what’s pitiful is john Yoo not only has yet to be disbarred and held accountable for his blatant malfeasance .. his utter dereliction of duty ..but the creepy bush-ass-kissing bastard is still actually “teaching” law ..

    men with any sense of honor don’t ..imo .. threaten children .. i don’t care who or what papa has done .. or is doing .. it smacks of “bill of attainder” .. and every bit of this rotten smelling pile of garbage has the distinct stink of total disrespect for our laws and founding documents .. our basic national tenets and ideals that only the fucking neocons and dick cheney can generate ..

    i can’t even begin to imagine an appropriate punishment under the law for bush/cheney/addington/yoo/hadley .. et al infinitum .. sooo .. imo.. a “complete walk” is out of the question .. and simply charging and prosecuting a few peons who tended the orchards of this crop of felonious fruit is so underwhelming as to be an insult to the nation ..

    undermining the constitution is not an act of patriotism ..

    • PPDCUS says:

      A Feeding Tube for Rumsfeld

      i can’t even begin to imagine an appropriate punishment under the law for bush/cheney/addington/yoo/hadley .. et al infinitum …

      It’s called the Guantanamo Bay Reuse Plan — an exclusive tropical resort reserved for the “worst of the worst” where these criminals will be subjected to the same anti-constitutional detention and maltreatment they established and operated since 2002.

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    Tip o’ the hat to the “Big Wheel” and the rest of the “wheelers”.

    A milestone achievement to be sure.

  16. Neil says:

    Cheney Statement on CIA Documents/Investigation

    The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.

    • skdadl says:

      Stanley Kubrick, where are you now that we really need you?

      I think I’ve moved beyond wondering whether Cheney is just a cynical liar or truly mad. I’m not sure I see the difference any more.

  17. fatster says:

    O/T, two stories about the economy:

    Monday, Aug. 24, 2009 15:57 PDT
    A union boss to oversee Wall Street

    “Denis M. Hughes, a former electrician, the grandson of a boilermaker and a carpenter, and the current president of the New York AFL-CIO, was named chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Monday.

    “The news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Hughes has been acting chair since the resignation of Stephen Friedman in May, a former Goldman Sachs executive who somehow managed to continue owning Goldman-Sachs stock while supposedly overseeing the investment bank as a regulator. But the spectacle of a “union boss” — as the Wall Street Journal put it — chairing the Fed has caused some consternation among  socialism-fearing red-blooded Americans. Union thugs are taking over Wall Street! The horror. The horror!”



    Federal Reserve loses suit demanding transparency
    Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:39pm EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – “A federal judge on Monday ruled against an effort by the U.S. Federal Reserve to block disclosure of companies that participated in and securities covered by a series of emergency funding programs as the global credit crisis began to intensify.”


  18. DeanOR says:

    Shouldn’t this be a headline? NYT:
    “Rendition to Continue, but With Better Oversight, U.S. Says
    Published: August 24, 2009
    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.
    Human rights advocates condemned the decision, saying that continuing the practice, known as rendition, would still allow the transfer of prisoners to countries with a history of torture. They said that promises from other countries of humane treatment, called “diplomatic assurances,” were no protection against abuse.”

    The Bush admin assured us that people were only rendered to countries that had given their assurance that they would not torture!

  19. john2 says:

    Isn’t this how Cheney has operated, and succeeded, all along? He had secret information about Saddam and the WMDs, if only he could show it to you, you’d see how believable it looks. You’re going to have to take Mr. Cheney’s word for it that Saddam is 45 minutes away from launching a nuclear strike on the US. How dare you accuse Mr. Cheney of lying! Traitor!

  20. Boston1775 says:

    So there you have it.
    KSM did it all.
    He’s confessed to absolutely everything.

    Ever heard of Stalin’s forced confessions?
    From Jeff Kaye’s blog, an exerpt from Armen Victorian’s Essay on the History of Mind Control Operations

    The notorious Moscow trials of 1937 during Stalin’s regime and the speed with which the defendants confessed to crimes against the state in the People’s Court, and in particular Cardinal Mindszently of Hungary, surprised the governments of the western world. “Characteristics and manner of the defendants, and formulation and delivery of the confessions, have been so similar in large number of cases as to suggest factitious origin.”[1] The evident incongruities prompted the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) in 1949 to undertake an “analysis of foreign work in certain unconventional warfare techniques, including behavioral drugs, with an initial objective of developing a capability to resist or offset the effects of behavioral drugs. Preliminary phases included to review drug-related work at institutions such as Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Valley Forge General Hospital, Detroit Psychopathic Clinic, Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Health (NIH). There was also extensive review of foreign literature, particularly work in the Soviet Bloc.

    “This program shortly became Project BLUEBIRD,

    scroll to bottom

  21. TheScarletPimpernel says:

    We’re expected to decide that the consumate liar and #1 helper in the Watergate cover-up is right from this POS? So much of the report is redacted that you cant even tell what the report was supposed to be about. Nice try, Dick. It still won’t work no matter how hard you try to make the lie the truth. EVERYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT INTERROGATION KNOWS THAT YOUR TORTURE PROGRAM DIDN’T WORK! And it is torture, no matter what euphemisms you try to give it.

  22. wagonjak says:

    Cheney’s statement about how the released torture memos prove that numerous attacks were prevented is absolute BS (#39), but is being repeated on all the cable news shows this morning without any follow-up questioning of it’s veracity!

    Our Fourth Estate at work…still doing stenography for the Bush administration….

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