August 31st, 2009
11:34 AM ET
5 years ago

Cheney wrong on interrogation inquiry facts, Obama official says

Cheney had his facts wrong on interrogation inquiry facts.
Cheney had his facts wrong on interrogation inquiry facts.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney had his facts wrong when he blasted Attorney General Eric Holder last week for launching an investigation into past CIA interrogation techniques, an administration official asserted Monday.

Holder's decision to review waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques was politically motivated, Cheney claimed in remarks broadcast on FOX News Sunday. Cheney made clear in the interview, conducted last Friday, that he believes President Barack Obama directed Holder to launch the review in response to pressure from left-wing Democrats.

But the administration official, who asked not to be identified, said, "The attorney general made a determination independently, based on the facts and the law."

The official also objected to Cheney's statement that "the president is the chief law enforcement officer in the land."


"That's not true," the official replied. "It's the attorney general."

During his FOX interview, Cheney repeated his past defense of the effectiveness of what are called enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs, such as waterboarding.

The techniques "were absolutely essential in saving American lives and preventing attacks on the UnitesdStates," Cheney said. "I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years we had no further direct attacks on the United States."

In response, the official noted that a recently released 2004 report from the CIA's inspector general concluded that "the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques are hard to measure."

The official highlighted a page from the report stating, among other things, that "measuring the effectiveness of EITs, however, is a ... subjective process and not without some concern."

The official also noted a separate conclusion in the report that "the effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be so easily measured."

The official also took issue with Cheney's assertion that a new interagency group tasked with overseeing terrorist interrogators will spend the bulk of its time deciding "who gets to ask what question and who's going to mirandize the witness."

"Mirandizing" refers to the process of informing an individual of his or her rights under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1966 Miranda ruling.

The primary goal of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, will be intelligence collection, not law enforcement, the official said.

The group will be based out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which, according to the official, currently mirandizes less than 1 percent of detainees.

"That will be the same practice" with the new group, the official asserted.


Filed under: CIA • Dick Cheney • Eric Holder
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    If the US doesn't investigate and prosecute the people who authorized TORTURE, you all are no better than Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or any other country in the world that has a corrupt government. The US has already lost a great deal of credibility internationally. Half of your oh, so great nation believes that you are above the law and that TORTURE is okay as long as you're the ones doing it. If North Korea tortured your jounalists, suddenly those same people would be wanking about how evil the N. koreans are. Clean House! Prosecute Cheney & Bush!

    August 31, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. S Callahan New York

    If it IS true that the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer then I want to know WHY this is not an elected position.....I think real research is needed about WHO is the chief law enforcement officer in this 'free' country.
    As well, I think this investigation should not be national if it must take place. Personally, I think it's wrong at this point in time.

    August 31, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. lace wigs

    cheney isn't just wrong, he's someone who should be put on trial for the CRIMES he committed...

    August 31, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Ken

    People that call themselves patriot, and who are buried in their toothless delusion deep in Mississippii, must feel great calling others enemies of this country. It is a testament to the LIBERAL nature of our constitution that people who have no more brains than a rat, even those in Mississippii, are allowed to vote and partake in the very Bill of Rights that they would so hypocritically deny others.

    August 31, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Joanna in PA

    Listen water boarding is tourtore and it is illegal. the USA has prosecuted people for this not too long ago. The Bush Cheney admin were continuously breaking well established laws and lying to the American people for year. They continue to use scare tactics to pray on the weak minded. Cheney made us LESS safe than before we were attacked. I am angry and they MUST be held accountable. This is not a dem vs gop thing, its an American thing. If all the crimes were committed by dems the GOP would be foaming at the mouth to indite.

    August 31, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Cliff

    It's Cheney who needs to be investigated.

    August 31, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    The President may have been the chief law enforcer under the Cheney reign, but the Constitution states otherwise.

    If the Executive branch is believed to be pressuring the Judicial branch then that should be investigated by Congress!

    Cheney appears to have a problem with what the Constitution dicates and what Cheney wants to dictate.

    August 31, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Ken

    That Cheney doesn't have his facts straight is nothing new. Afterall, this is the VERY reason he is so popular with the fact-challenged base of the [R] party.....he is very good at coming up with his trademark delusional rightwing fairytales which make all of his neo-tard supporters feel good about their own stupidity.

    August 31, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Big Ed

    If Cheney had nothing to hide, why would he care? he said the record speaks for itself. Yes, let's look at that record....

    August 31, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. demwit

    Cheney is lost! The Attorney General is an independent branch of government!!

    August 31, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Just as an observer, I tend to give more credence to the guy who is willing to make his claim in person, rather than under the safety of anonymity. If the un-named "source" in the Obama administration is so sure of himself. Then let them print your name. Or else SHUT UP!

    August 31, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    Up until a few years ago I was considered as conservative as they come. Today I am happy to say I have not changed my views one bit and I am proclaimed a liberal. Well, I am proud to wear that title.

    The President may not interfer in DoJ investigations he may request an investigation, but even then, its the Attorney General that makes the decision. Whether or not to order an investigation into a proposed crimminal manner is the sole responsibility of the Attorney General. Intereference in such a investigation by anyone to include the President is consider a very serious matter, it is called interferance in a federal investigation.

    The investigation is perhaps one of the most patriotic things to have come out of Washington in years. It recognizes that there are Federal Laws that mean something and that one can not just set them aside.

    August 31, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. RealityKing

    I love articles on Cheney. They really bring out the IQ in CNN's readers..

    August 31, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. John

    Cheney and the administration are both right, from their own points of view.

    The attorney general is following the law.

    Cheney regards actions taken under any laws he doesn't like as political actions.

    August 31, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Suzan

    The biggest terrorists of all is the Republican party.......part of a terrorist is to insight FEAR and to SCARE Amercians.......well that is just exactly what the GOP is trying to do right now with all their lies about the Health Care trying to scare the elderly with all their lame lies, implanting all their brainwashed supporters to disrupt all the town hall meetings.......and the last 8 years of Bush/Chaney was nothing but insighting FEAR everytime they wanted to get something passed in the Senate or to get the votes or to start wars.....FEAR ......Chaney is the scariest terrorist of all........and he is afraid that these investigations is going to show all of us and the World what a low life he really is.......

    August 31, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. mother and sister of soldiers

    another note, I wish my son and brother had only been sleep deprived or waterboard. if you haven't seen the reality of war, you have no worthwhile comment. chaney knows the real world and i want the men and women defending us the right to defend themselves.

    August 31, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. More hate from the left

    When will the LIberals realize that the Republicans are not the enemy?

    Al-Queda is. You remember them, don't you? They are the group that murdered 2998 CIVILIAN Americans back on 9/11. But I forgot, Libs want us to "get over it".

    1) The terrorists who were waterboarded (3 people) are Illegal Combantants. Therefore they are not covered by the Geneva Convention.

    2) Waterboarding is not torture. Unpleasant, but not torture. Our Military is waterboarded as part of their training. However, when we get caught by the Taliban, they cut off our heads and put the video up on the Internet.

    3) We NEVER EVER executed the Japanese or any other enemy for simple waterboarding. The people who were executed after WW2 did more then waterboarding. You can look it up, it is all in the history books.

    August 31, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Jeff in Virginia

    If Cheney has nothing to hide, then he shouldn't mind an investigation to clear his name.

    Wasn't that his own logic when it came to his warrentless wiretaps?

    August 31, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. "Victim" - Often Used, Rarely True

    For those of you who support Cheney (last I checked it was well under 20% of the population) please remember you are in a vast minority. Most Americans understand that our country operates soley on the degree of fairness our justice system is based from. Of those rights, which we extend to foreign suspects as well, if we are to pick and chose when the rules do apply and when they don't based on emotional appeal then, yes, the terrorists have won.

    For us as a country to question the very basic principles of habeus corpus is to admit that our system, in which we believe is the best, is flawed.

    Either we are consistant with our policies, setting an example accross the world, or we can be wish-washy and stand for nothing.

    And you call yourselves Patriots?!

    August 31, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    1) If waterboarding and other means of torture were/are so effective, then why did the Bush Administration discontinue using it in 2003? Did they suddenly think our country was no longer at risk?

    2) Cheney claims that Khalid Sheik Mohammed provided valuable information regarding al Qaeda. While that is true, this information was provided before he was waterboarded; records show that no reliable intelligence was obtained from him after he was waterboarded.

    3) The use of waterboarding created a rift within both the White House and the CIA, many of whose members resented the White House's (Cheney's) orders to use waterboarding and other means of torture. That truly demoralized to our intelligence agencies – when they could no longer trust that the head of our government would abide by the Constitution.

    Thank goodness we elected President Obama, who is restoring integrity to the White House!

    August 31, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. S Callahan New York

    As for Cheney I have never supported this man who has acted out of evil...and even now has his cronnies that act in the same way (in both parties).....what I am seeing is law abliding, employer directed employees being scapegoated for the actions/orders of their higher ups. That is wrong, plain wrong!

    August 31, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Sam

    Cheney is the ultimate faux-hawk politician. This is the same fool who, when presented with the opportunity to stand up and defend his country, ducked and said he had "better things to do."

    Tellingly, Cheney STILL believes that the President gets to dictate to the AG on what to do...obviously this was the kind of illegal behavior that was the other of the day during the Bush years...like using the politicians to fire US Attorneys who didnt use their offices to do the Republicans' dirty biddings...

    August 31, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. phoenix86

    Holder is using the justice department for purely political purposes. This has already been investigated.

    Holder is launching another investigation to divert attention away from a $2 trillion Obama budget, a $10 trillion Obama deficit; and a $1 trillion Obama healthcare fiasco.

    Hopefully, the new adminstration in 2012 will charge Holder with gross negligence.

    August 31, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Alexander

    Dick is so vocal now for one reason only: He knows real upright Americans will uncover his crimes against law abiding US Citizens!! He belongs to jail!!

    August 31, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. John

    No 9/11 terrorists was from Iraq. They were from counties like Libya, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Iraq was attacked for Bush's greed for OIL. Sr. Bush attacked Iraq in 1991, which was also for OIL. But Sr. Bush did not accomplish mission in eliminating Saddam, which ultimately Jr. Bush Did.....These Guantanamo bay detainees, who were Waterboarded and Tortured by CIA, under Cheney's orders are very small fish. They belong to countries who are in poverty and not industrially advanced. These countries cannot even manufacture a dagger, leave aside sophisticated weapons. RUSSIA IS SUPPLYING WEAPONS TO AL QUIDA.....What has Bush and Cheney done to stop Russia from Supplying Weapons to Al Quida. Bush and Cheney cannot talk and adopt diplomacy, they only know how to war. BUSH AND CHENEY ARE WARMONGERS. But they cannot war with Russia. Russia it is too Powerful. Bush and Cheney can only war with Timid countries or CAN TORTURE TIMID PEOPLE. :|

    August 31, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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