Second-term tactics

SECOND-TERM TACTICS…. Lawrence Wilkerson’s comments yesterday about the Bush administration torturing detainees in the hopes of establishing a Saddam/al Qaeda link were obviously important. But there was something else Wilkerson said that bears repeating.

My investigations have revealed to me — vividly and clearly — that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering “the Cheney methods of interrogation”, simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama’s having shut down the “Cheney interrogation methods” will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

That’s a good point. All of the recent revelations about detainee abuse, torture memos, administration directives, etc., point to incidents from Bush’s first term. Wilkerson’s contention that the explosive Abu Ghraib scandal changed the nature of the process seems entirely plausible.

If so, the Bush/Cheney torture policies weren’t dropped four months ago, when President Obama took office, but rather, five years ago. If the tactics were absolutely necessary for our national security, and to protect Americans from deadly terrorist attacks, this wouldn’t have happened.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.