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. Doug, New Jersey

    It was wrong for the CIA to make terrorists think we were going to physically harm them, but not actually do it, but ACORN and the Union thugs who are actually inflicting physical violence on law abiding good hearted Americans at Town Hall meetings is righteous and justified. Either you vote against the Democrats in 2010 and 2012 or you are in full 100% agreement with the statement above.

    August 31, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Vet and Patriot: Proud American

    I for one am happy they are investigating this dark episode in american history. We can not let these crimes against humanity to go unpunished, regardless of whether they were done by americans or foreignors.

    I would rather die a proud nation, then remain a nation of cowards that would resort to the corrupt and un-christian practices that the terrorist nations of this world condone.

    Those who would sacrifice honor for life, do not deserve to be americans.

    PS: How did all of those other presidents guard against the terrorists with out resorting to such cowardly tactics as torture? Makes you wonder.

    August 31, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. j

    Cheney is just plain WRONG, period.

    August 31, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. unshrub

    It shouldn't be the CIA that gets in trouble for violating the law, it should be Cheney, because he is the one who ordered the torture. The CIA is just the pawns in this. Although, it is Holden's job to investigate without regard to politics. Republicans need to learn that everyone needs to follow the law of the land, and they need to get used to the fact that we have someone leading the Justice Department who actually believes in the rule of law. WOW!

    August 31, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Gary Chandler in Canada

    If America, now, can torture suspects, who is going to say other Nations can not?

    August 31, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. American Voice

    Former Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert broke the law in his country and was already indicted. Maybe Chaney and Bush can serve time together with Olmert.

    August 31, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. ran

    Why is this guy not in jail? I get physically sick whenever i see Chaney.

    August 31, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Americans pride themselves on being intelligent and informative, if this is true then don't be naive to believe the most recent announcement by the U.S. Attorney's Office of an investigation into "water boarding" and other interrogation tactics are not politically driven ... I assure you they are! The first question in the investigation should be, what will this "investigation" gain or benefit?

    August 31, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Freedom

    Obama can't stop a investagation at the Justice Department. You mean the constitution is going to stop him. WOW
    It didn't stop him from breaking it with.
    1. STATES RIGHTS
    2. Placing CZARS in high places.

    Nothing stops OBAMA from breaking the constitution when it helps himself.

    August 31, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. gg

    why not investigate getting into the iraq war lies cheneys cherry picking using the milatary for personal profit how many died on both sides needlessly

    August 31, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Farrell in Houston

    Cheney proved to be wrong for our country and in his attempt to discredit Atty Gen. Holder and President Obama, Cheney is wrong again. Dick Cheney doesn't want to appear guilty as sin by speaking for himself instead of hiring an attorney(it might look more suspicious), but he will when he accepts the fact that everyone knows he's guilty.

    August 31, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. AbraGina

    PLEASE let the investigation go forth, even after Obama and Holder said they would not do it in the first place..whats one more lie, right.. Also, release the documents that Cheney wanted declassified. If the current administration is so sure of some wrong-doings then releasing these documents will not hurt them. For all of the posters here that want Cheney in jail, it is not going to happen..otherwise Clinton would be in jail for Whitewater, Jane Fonda would be in jail for treason, the list goes on and on....

    August 31, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. The black Spider

    Why is it so difficult to find a republican willing to TELL THE TRUTH.
    Lying to appeal to the brain deads became the mantra of the party.
    Enough with the lies.
    I would be so glad to see the republicans opposing the cost of the health care bill and try to find a solution on the cost but all i am hearing from them is lies about stuff that are not even in the bill.
    You've got to be insane to think health care reform is not needed in this country.
    I was having some constant headaches and went to the doctor to get it checked up even though i work for a medical insurance company and though I wld have the best insurance, my out of pocket will be almost 2000 dollars.
    Just to check if I have any tumor and start treatment early I have to spend 2000 dollars and you fools think that is right.
    Amazing. I wish any of you right wing nuts ever get sick. oh I forgot you all on government run medicare

    August 31, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Obama assured the CIA, in person, that he would not prosecute those who acted in good faith in protecting this country. Now he's punted to Holder, who's decided to prosecute actions based upon memos generated by his own Justice Department in the prior administration. No wonder many CIA employees carry insurance to cover legal fees. This is a travesty.

    August 31, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Barry

    I am sure the Obama administration is concerned about our national security. Investigate the agency that has the responsiblity of finding terrorist!! Brilliant! Obama is a genious! Stop the agency that stops terror!! Excellant idea!

    August 31, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Ed Loftus

    What does it matter whether you like or don't like Cheney? If he was the man-in-the-moon the issue he raises is what matters. If Holder wants to investigate he should issue a blanket amnesty to all parties involved, (except the prisoners). Find out the truth in an atmosphere in which no one has to fear that they'll be made a scapegoat. Doing so under the threat of terminations and prosecutions would destroy the morale and effectiveness of any organization

    If Holder's decision is suspect then Obama gets to either keep him or fire him. If he keeps him, then Obama associates himself with the suspect decision and his motives are subject to suspicion as well. If you are suspicious of Dick Cheney then suspect him as much as you think is justified. But denouncing and dismissing Cheney has nothing to do with resolving the issue he has raised.

    August 31, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Paul C.

    If any one knows about political motivations it is Cheney but why is anyone listening to this political hack?
    He thinks that if you commit a crime with good intentions that makes it alright... Are you listening O.J.?
    He has made his fortune so now let him retire to hunt tame quail.

    August 31, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Keith in CA

    I'd like to know what was learned from these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The Bush/Cheney admin does not have a good track record of acting on known threats. (1)They had the NSA report of bin Laden determined to attack within the US, yet 9/11 was not prevented. (2)Their intelligence about Iraqi ties to al Qaeda and WMDs was all wrong. (3)They knew, along with anyone following the news, that hurricane Katrina was going to hit New Orleans, yet their response was tragically slow and inept. How many Americans– military and civilians–have died on the Bush/Cheney watch? It's beyond an apalling disgrace. It's criminal.

    August 31, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. the bottom line

    Torture is illegal. No one is above the law. Justification of illegality brings shame to our nation.

    August 31, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Peoples Voice

    Dick said, "the president is the chief law enforcement officer in the land."

    Not since you and your puppet have left office. It's back to being an independent body. You have a lot of nerve calling this political after what you and your puppet did in firing the AG's.

    You're going to be prosecuted. Get use to the idea.

    August 31, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Mike in Los Angeles

    Given the utter devestation that the Bush Administration, with Cheney as second in command, wrought on the United States specifically and the world in general, the man has no credibility to speak of on anything at all. If he told me the sky was blue, I check for myself to be sure. Why would anyone given any degree of validity to anything he says now?

    In addition to that, it is now becoming crystal clear that much of his conduct in his role as VP was criminal, illegal and immoral, so again, why would anyone take anything this man says seriously? His track record speaks for itself. He ought to be in prison, and if there is any justice to be had anywhere in the known universe, that is exactly where he will end up eventually. If he had any degree of intelligence beneath his rank arrogance, he's shut his mouth and stop making such an obvious target of himself.

    Go away, Dick. The country is sick to death of you. Haven't you done enough damage already?

    August 31, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Tim

    Oh, the truth hurts, doesn't it Obama? Cheney is absolutely right, go read the reports. Prior to the enhanced interogation techniques, Kalid Shiek-Mohammad gave up little information, and nothing forward looking. After 183 waterboardings and other enhanced techniques, he became a treasure trove of information that led to many additional captures and killings of terrorists.

    Any way you look at it, but the democratic way, the techniques are a resounding success. No wonder why Obama has so much trouble, he has his own way to measure success.

    Thanks Bush and Cheney, you are both true-blue Americans.

    August 31, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Randy

    Cheney said these tools worked, democants screamed they did not. Cheney said release all the transcripts democants said no. Now they have and they clearly showed they worked.

    August 31, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I am neither GOP or DEM, but the constant political infighting is creating an environment very difficult to work in ... the "public debate" over were "Agency" and DoD interrogators violating U.S. and Int'l Law has made a number of dedicated members of the U.S. Intelligence Community apprehensive about continuing in the trade craft they have been trained do. Please think less about your political agendas and more about the men & women task to carry out the enormous burden of keeping America and her allies safe.

    August 31, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. ATR

    Cheney let terrorists attack the U.S. on 9/11. He ignored all warnings that came out the summer before. So to make up for HIS mistake he orders torture to get false confessions. Torture is against the law. No one is above it.

    August 31, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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