Cheney’s claims put to the test

CHENEY’S CLAIMS PUT TO THE TEST…. For much of the Spring, Dick Cheney received more than his share of media attention, insisting that there were documents proving the efficacy of Bush-era torture. For the most part, the claims were largely irrelevant — torture is illegal, it undermines our national security interests, intelligence can be gleaned through legitimate methods, and President Obama disavowed its use.

But Cheney kept pushing, insisting that the administration should declassify pro-torture materials, which would prove that “enhanced interrogations” produced life-saving intelligence. His political allies and a variety of media figures endorsed his demands. Yesterday, the documents were published for the first time, and the former vice president was delighted. Should he have been?

Spencer Ackerman took a closer look.

Strikingly, [the documents] provide little evidence for Cheney’s claims that the “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA provided valuable information. In fact, throughout both documents, many passages — though several are incomplete and circumstantial, actually suggest the opposite of Cheney’s contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations. […]

[P]erhaps the blacked-out lines of the memos specifically claim and document that torture and only torture yielded this information. But what’s released within them does not remotely make that case. Cheney’s public account of these documents have conflated the difference between information acquired from detainees, which the documents present, and information acquired from detainees through the enhanced interrogation program, which they don’t.

In a statement, Tom Parker, the policy director of Amnesty International’s American branch, said, “Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Vice President Cheney’s track record, the two CIA memos released today are hardly the slam dunk we had been led to expect. There is little or no supporting evidence in either memo to give substance to the specific claims about impending attacks made by Khaled Shaik Mohammed in highly coercive circumstances.”

Patrick Appel has more, including this conclusion: “The documents are heavily redacted, but nothing we can read refers to torture techniques providing solid information…. It’s worth repeating that no one denies torture produces information. It produces loads of information, most of it bad. The same or better information can be collected through other techniques and, again, nothing in these documents compares and contrasts these methods.”

Dick Cheney’s claims haven’t stood up well to scrutiny. Imagine that.