On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, viewers were treated to an appearance from Liz Cheney, who did exactly as she was expected to do. Christiane Amanpour asked if the killing of bin Laden “reignites the debate” over whether to “bring back” Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Cheney replied:
“I think it does. I think the fact that you clearly have the current CIA director saying that part of the intelligence came from enhanced interrogation, it’s important to remember, you know, Chip Burlingame, who was the pilot on American Airlines Flight 77 that flew into the Pentagon, he himself was subjected to these techniques when he went through SERE training.
“These are not torture. These are techniques that we know work. That debate is over. It worked. It got the intelligence. It wasn’t torture. It was legal.
“It seems to me the key question now is, we’ve got this trove of intelligence, what looks to have been perhaps the biggest trove we’ve ever been able to get a hold of. If that leads us to other Al Qaida operatives, it’s not clear to me that we have any way to effectively interrogate them. We don’t have enhanced interrogation anymore.”
Now, the fact that Liz Cheney is willing to say ridiculous things on national television doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. I would note, however, that her comments received exactly zero pushback from Amanpour, which is a genuine shame.
Thankfully, Thomas Ricks, later in the program, eventually was able to say, “I never thought I’d live in a country where we would debate whether we should endorse torture as an official policy. Was some information obtained through torture? Probably yeah. Could it have been obtained through more professional methods the intelligence professionals recommended? Almost certainly yes. We could have gotten it sooner and better.”
Quite right. Indeed, Cheney has a habit of making absurd claims, which somehow leads to more opportunities to appear on the air to make more absurd claims. In this case, Cheney’s assessment of Leon Panetta’s remarks is misleading; she’s relying on a SERE-training talking point that was debunked years ago; she’s ignoring the fact that torture appears to have played little if any role in this mission; and her entire schpiel is morally bankrupt.
As for the notion that we’re helpless in the event that we capture other terrorists, since that rascally President Obama won’t allow torture, it’s astonishing the limits of the Cheney imagination. When a suspect is in custody, it’s as if Cheney has list on what to do next: “Step One: torture. Step Two: see Step One.”
The torture apologists remain a national embarrassment.