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. Bill

    Bush and Cheney:

    1. Lied to Americans that Iraq has WMDs.

    2. Created a False Intelligence Report that Iraq has WMDs.

    3. Caused the death of 4300 US Troops.

    4. Caused permanent disability to 25000 US Troops.

    5. Spent $ 1 Trillion in Iraq War.

    BUSH and CHENEY should in JAIL.

    August 31, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. Vets4Obama

    When will the republicans and christians of this country realize that TERRORISTS are the enemy. And terrorists advocate the practice of torture. We MUST go after any and ALL terrorists (advocators of torture) be they foreign or domestic.

    Torture does NOT work. Ironically enough, Reagan safeguarded against torture with OUT using torture. Torture is a cowards substitute for competence and honor.

    The best thing to come out of this is to pursue all those who have made our country no better then any other country that has pursued the hainous crime of Torture. It is a crime against humanity. Hang ANYONE that authorized it!

    I will agree, those that took orders MUST be left alone.

    August 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. KirksNoseHair

    Why does anyone listen to this clown? He and Bush destroyed our image abroad with their policies, and yes, I DO care what our world neighbors think of us.

    August 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. demokansas

    erm, what? not chief law enforcement officer in the land? what exactly does "commander in chief" mean then?

    August 31, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. cruiserGT

    Give'em Hell Dick!

    The communist leaning administration is obviously going to reject any argument to improve or protect America and our interests.

    We need a commitment our of Washington to seek out terrorists and enemies of the American people and "nuke'em till they glow and shot'em in the dark!"

    Take that you bunch of liberal pacifists!

    August 31, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. yuri

    It was irresistible for us and here we go for a second comment on Cheney's recent remarks about EITs. We believe he, either, is turning his Nelson's eye to the scientific reports, or, is plain oblivious of Peter Bergen's cogent and coherent articulation of the demerits of EITs as image destroyers for the US.

    Abu Zubaida, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were waterboarded numerous times, but info. yield was pathetically negligible. They, by no means, contributed to the safety of the US. If Cheney wants to fantasize in his own world, that's his prerogative, but when he expresses his views aurthoritatively about the EITs, it does not wash one dang bit.

    August 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Gerry

    Dick Cheney is worried that he might be going to jail. He should be worried. To anyone who has been following the public disclosures on the issues surrounding the CIA torture of detainees it is obvious that all roads lead to Dick Cheney. Cheney thought up the idea to circumscribe the UN conventions against torture, to which the US is a signatory; Cheney directed the CIA via then Director George Tenet to implement the rules on torture that Cheney’s lawyers had concocted; Cheney then ordered the CIA officers and contractors to use the most inhumane and shocking methods available to torture detainees, not to get information from them, because we all know that torture does not work, but, to punish them for having got caught and sent into US custody. Try, convict, sentence and jail Dick Cheney.

    August 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Lisa, MO

    This man is coming out of the cobwebs for one reason and one reason ONLY–HE IS GUILTY. And so are his cronnies. He lied to the American people and he continues to lie. He is guilty, guilty, guilty.

    Eric Holder,is doing his job, and a fine job. If he didn't do his job he would not be a good Attorney General. I'm proud of him and I hope he will follow the facts and do the job that we are paying him to do. Even if he brings down Dick Cheney and his crooked buddies.

    August 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. haren

    Bill Clinton would have stopped white water inquiry if justice dept. is not independent.
    So all republican blogger stop blaming Obama for this inquiry because democrats are more honest to keep Justice dept. independent.
    Cheney should be in prison, he is afraid that water will flow under his feet when some CIA agent point finger at him.
    where were he when he exposed Valarie fumes a CIA agent and now all of a sudden he has sympathy for them.
    And one more point did not Cheney said that we should not worried about deficit in 2003/04
    how come now republican worried about deficit for health care system.

    August 31, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    There is no Liberal bias. That's just yet another bit of name-calling Fox and the right throw out there whenever anyone disagrees with them – or when they get caught lying.

    Here's a helpful hint: Do some research and not just parrot Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck and Coulter's talking poins. You'd be surprised how much fiction and fantasy those four (and others of their ilk) engage in.

    August 31, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. vic nashville , Tn

    Eric Holder remember everything and don’t fire people for political reason

    August 31, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. John

    RUSSIA IS SUPPLYING WEAPONS TO AL QUIDA…..

    1. What has Bush and Cheney done to stop Russia from Supplying Weapons to Al Quida.

    2. Bush and Cheney cannot talk and adopt diplomacy, they only know how to war.

    3. BUSH AND CHENEY ARE WARMONGERS. But they cannot war with Russia. Russia it is too Powerful.

    4. Bush and Cheney can only war with Timid countries or CAN TORTURE TIMID PEOPLE.

    August 31, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. JP

    All you people that think Cheney will be prosecuted need to get a life. Aren't you supposed to be getting ready for your "astro turf" pro health care reform pep rallies? When the next republican president is in office, its going to be a field day deciding what to prosecute Obama officials for....great precedent to set there Mr. Holder.

    August 31, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Cheney is wrong when he says the President is the chief law enforcement officer. While that was his attitude when he was VP – and was the rationale for trampling the Constitution and breaking the law (similar to what Nixon believed) – it is not correct.

    Eric Holder is the chief law enforcement officer.

    According to Title 28 of the United States Code (federal statuatory law), Part II, Chapter 31, § 503, the U.S. Attorney General is the head of the Department of Justice, concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government.

    August 31, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Debra R

    Jeez didn't you idiots listen in civics? Obama is the chief executive officer, the AG reports directly to him and gets his walking orders from him.

    Would you have had Abraham Lincoln placed in jail too? While liberating the slaves and holding the union together he suspended habeus corpus, freedom of the press and trial by jury. Thank God you all weren't alive then!

    I don't give a rat's patootie what other countries think of us! There were not more planes flyng into buildings!

    And the only thing you will accomplish with this investigation crap is making us weaker in those crazy extremists views.

    You people would have turned the Lockerbie bomber loose too...

    August 31, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Teresa

    Cheney can dish it out but not take it? Well wonders of wonders. I hope they throw the book at his narcissistic behind.

    August 31, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. J.L. n MD.

    Interesting...................why not just shut your trap and if it were for Cheney's EVIL and hate-driven manner maybe America would not be in a situation to explain use of touture.

    August 31, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Jake

    what exactly are you afraid of, Cheney? he has been dead wrong on EVERYTHING!

    August 31, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Joe

    Cheney should go back to that undisclosed location, hunker down, and shut up. Then maybe the Feds won't find him when the investigation finally makes its way up the food chain to him.

    August 31, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Libertarian

    I think "Bill" hit the nail on the head. Bush/Cheney were VERY deceitful in "defending" this country. I think they were defending their wallets first. All those saying that Obama is trampling the Constitution must have never read it. It defines our country and it's values. We are a country of LAW. If we chose to impose rule on others but not abide by it then we are not a country of values or morality any longer.

    August 31, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Americanism 101

    Why is this, Official," not named.

    Typical shoddy journalism from CNN.

    I have no respect for anonymous sources.

    Speak from the courage of your conviction or shut up.

    August 31, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. C White

    The only thing political is the fact Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice and Bush are not in jail for being war criminals.

    August 31, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. GOPer

    Cheney is NOT above the law. He, Rumsfeld, Rove, Tenet, Bush, etc. should be in jail for the illegal activity they imposed on our great nation.

    Waterboarding is torture (period). Enabling such illegally deplorable activity with excuses makes Cheney and others no better than the terrorists we are fighting.

    America deserves better with justice and our moral standing upheld.

    August 31, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Mike

    By using the topic of water boarding Chaney has managed to keep the media from focusing on the more important issue: Why did the Bush administration ingoring the warnings they were given regarding Bin Laden?
    For Chaney to say that waterboarding prevented attacks and offer as proof the fact that there were no further attacks is wrong. Bill Clinton could have made that same statement after the first attack on the Trade Towers which alos would have been wrong. Chaney is dilussional. He believes that the president is the law. Heil Hitler, Dick.

    August 31, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    The President is Commander in Chief, which means he is the commander of the nation's military forces. It is by this statute that civilian control of the military is realized, as required by our Constitution.

    Translation: We are not a military dictatorship; we are a representative government whose military falls under the responsibility of our elected president. (Who, of course, consults with the Chiefs of Staff and other military leaders when making decisions.)

    Folks, please do a little research before you post!

    August 31, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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