(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview broadcast Sunday that the Justice Department's decision to review waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques is politically motivated.
Cheney said he opposes the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to ask a former prosecutor to review CIA interrogations of high-profile terrorism suspects.
Cheney made clear he believes President Obama directed Holder to launch the review because the president is feeling pressure from left-wing Democrats. Cheney said the review will undermine the willingness of CIA personnel to conduct necessary operations.
"I think it's a terrible decision," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's clearly a political move. There's no other rationale for why they're doing this."
He criticized Obama for allowing a review considering the president previously said that CIA operatives involved in the interrogations would not be prosecuted. "I think he's trying to duck responsibility for what's going on here, and I think it's wrong," Cheney said.
Updated: 2:43 p.m.
Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "Campbell Brown," "AC360°" and "State of the Union With John King," as well as special event coverage.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - No matter which way you look at it, the question is painfully difficult: What - if anything - do we do about the post 9/11 behavior of some CIA agents who worked feverishly to interrogate prisoners they believed had information that could save American lives?
First, we now know definitively what we always suspected - that agent actions were sometimes abusive, perhaps even illegal, as they tried to obtain information.
The just-released Justice Department report shows, among other things, that agents choked one detainee repeatedly and threatened to kill another prisoner's children. Not pretty stuff.
But here's what we also know, thanks to another report (purposefully) released by the CIA as a response to the Justice document: Some interrogations worked.
According to these agency reports, chronicling 2004 and 2005, the intelligence community gleaned valuable information in real-time - like tracking down a terrorist network and securing key information from the notorious Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind.
The CIA's message is clear: Whatever we did helped us get what we needed to save lives. So get off our backs and let us do our jobs.
But here's the catch, and it's what complicates all of this: The CIA report does not draw a straight line between any specific interrogation methods and success. Indeed, the report says the "effectiveness" of any particular interrogation technique in gaining star-quality information "cannot be so easily measured."
That is an understatement.
So it's easy to see why the president, who doesn't need another political headache, was happy to toss the hot potato over to Attorney General Eric Holder for review. Holder is independent, the president reminded us. He is supposed to make decisions about whether to prosecute criminal cases without the president. That notion could provide a smidgeon of political cover, but it looks like it won't be enough.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A prominent Democratic strategist said Monday that the Justice Department probe of CIA interrogations during President George W. Bush's administration may turn into a political liability for President Obama.
"This is terrible politics for the Obama administration and the Democrats," James Carville, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, said Monday in an interview on 'The Situation Room.' "The country – like – really doesn't want this."
But, Carville added that the decision to open the probe into Bush-era interrogations of terrorism suspects is being driven by a belief that "we are a nation of laws."
Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist and CNN political contributor, agreed with Carville.
"Well, we are a nation of laws," Rollins said. "And, I think, obviously if there's anybody who violated laws, they should be punished."
But, Rollins noted that the probe runs the risk of sapping morale at the CIA "at a time that we need them to be on alert and moving forward."
The White House has issued the following statement Monday:
Statement from the Press Secretary on the Department of Justice Inquiry
The President has said repeatedly that he wants to look forward, not back, and the President agrees with the Attorney General that those who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance should not be prosecuted. Ultimately, determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the Attorney General.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department has asked federal prosecutor John Durham to examine whether CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists were illegal, a source told CNN.
Full statement from the Justice Department after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama has approved the establishment of a special unit of terrorist interrogators based out of the FBI, senior administration officials said Monday.
The move comes in the wake of criticism of questionable CIA interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and the transfer of detainees to countries where torture is common.
A 2004 CIA report detailing the use of unauthorized interrogation methods - including the threatened use of a gun and an electric drill - is expected to be made public Monday.
The decision to place the FBI, rather than the CIA, in charge of the interrogations of suspected terrorists represents a major shift in U.S. national security policy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House Intelligence Committee will investigate whether any laws were broken when the CIA concealed a now-canceled counterterrorism program from Congress, the panel's chairman announced Friday.
Among the things the committee will look into is "whether there was any past decision or direction to withhold information from the committee," Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said in a statement announcing the probe.
"I intend to make this investigation fair and thorough, and it is my goal that it will not become a distraction to the men and women of the CIA," he said.
"However, in order to assist them fully and keep them well-resourced, it is the responsibility of the executive branch to ensure that the committee is kept fully and currently informed of all significant anticipated intelligence activities."
CIA Director Leon Panetta told a congressional committee in June that he was told former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the intelligence agency to withhold information about the secret program from Congress. Panetta terminated the program when he found out about it last month. The spy agency said Thursday that the program was never put into full effect and played no significant role in the battle against al Qaeda and other violent extremists.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A counterterrorism program the CIA concealed from Congress was never put into full effect and played no significant role in the conflict with al-Qaeda and other extremists, the CIA said Thursday.
"The program (CIA Director Leon Panetta) killed was never fully operational and never took a single terrorist off the battlefield," CIA spokesman George Little said in a written statement.
"Those are facts he shared with Congress. We've had a string of successes against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and that program didn't contribute to any of them."
At issue is Panetta's testimony in June to a congressional committee that he was told former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the intelligence agency to withhold information about the secret program from Congress. Several key Senate and House Democrats have argued Cheney acted inappropriately in issuing such an order.
Panetta terminated the program when he found out about it last month.
Panetta briefed lawmakers on June 24 on the unspecified program, according to a publicly released letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta. The June 26 letter characterized Panetta as testifying that the CIA "concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week."
The letter contained no details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed or how they purportedly misled members of Congress.
–CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this report.
“This is very suspect timing,” Republican strategist and former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “The president’s agenda is almost in shambles. His [poll] numbers are dropping. Isn’t it coincidental; they gin up a Cheney story.”
Matalin also said that the Executive branch has some authority under the nation’s intelligence laws to not disclose information to Congress under certain circumstances. “The more people that know, the more it leaks . . . and then the enemy knows what it is,” Matalin said of details about other intelligence programs that were leaked to the media.
“Every time they get in trouble . . . they dredge up a Darth Vader story,” Matalin also said, making a reference to past comparisons between Cheney and the villain in the “Stars Wars’ movies.