Published: August 30, 2009
Update: Cheney says he may not speak with special prosecutor
Former Vice President Dick Cheney led a counter-attack in the media against Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation of CIA torture practices Sunday, with Fox News devoting half an hour to the former vice president’s views.
The Bush administration official continued to defend his policies and the authorization of torture, adding that he may skirt speaking to the Justice Department’s special prosecutor altogether.
“It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in,” he said. “I’ve been very outspoken in my views on this matter.”
Meanwhile, the blogosphere is up in arms by what some see as a concerted effort by the Washington Post to “provide cover” to Cheney by running stories defending CIA torture.
On Friday, RAW STORY reported on Cheney’s pre-recorded Fox News interview, in which the vice president said he was “okay” with even the most extreme cases of torture during interrogations — those that went beyond the guidelines set out by the Bush administration.
Cheney told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that politics are driving a decision to investigate the possible torture of detainees. “I think it’s a terrible decision,” he said. “It’s clearly a political move. I mean, there’s no other rationale for why they’re doing this.”
A full transcript of Cheney’s interview is available here.
The Washington Post ran an article Sunday stating that “morale has sagged at the CIA following the release of … an inspector general’s review of the agency’s interrogation program and the announcement that the Justice Department would investigate possible abuses by interrogators.”
The article also cited John L. Helgerson, author of the CIA report released last week, who told the Post that the documents’ release, “though painful, would ensure that the agency confronts difficult issues head on, instead of ignoring or trying to bury them.”
Helgerson added that it would be “very difficult” to prosecute any of the individuals involved in torture practices because the program had been approved by the Justice Department at the time.
“There would be no jury appeal, and I do not believe there was any criminal intent among those involved,” Helgerson said.
That story followed an earlier Washington Post piece, published Saturday, that stated Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, became the CIA’s prime source of information about al Qaeda, effectively “lecturing” the CIA about the group.
“This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques,” the Post reported.
Some bloggers are now accusing the Post of effectively running a political campaign against the Justice Department’s decision to investigate torture.
“There have been no documents supporting Cheney’s claim that torture was essential to saving American lives,” writes Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress. “Even CIA memos from 2004 and 2005, which Cheney claimed would back him up, have been released and have no evidence linking torture to valuable intelligence. In fact, these memos show that ‘non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information’.”
John Amato at Crooks and Liars writes that the Post’s reporting “is rife with anonymous sources … clearly there to provide cover for Cheney as he takes up his cause of justifying his horrific torture regime once again to the American people, but this time with a brand spanking new piece of propaganda from the elite media.”
Glenn Greenwald at Salon was even less charitable.
“I defy anyone to identify a single way the article would be different if the Post had let Dick Cheney write it himself,” Greenwald wrote. “The next time someone laments the economic collapse of the modern American newspaper, one might point out that an industry which pays three separate reporters (Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate) and numerous editors to churn out mindless, inane tripe like this has brought about its own demise.”
This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast Aug. 30, 2009.