May 17th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Iraq war case wasn't built on the waterboard, Liz Cheney says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Liz Cheney traveled to the Middle East with her parents in March 2008."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Waterboarding was not used to produce intelligence that linked Iraq to al Qaeda in the run-up to the war in Iraq, former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter said Sunday.

A former top State Department official, Lawrence Wilkerson, told CNN last week that finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network became the main purpose of the "alternative" interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002 - a program critics say amounted to the torture of prisoners in American custody.

But Liz Cheney, who served in the State Department during the Bush administration, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that "Nobody who is talking about this in the press has any knowledge of specific detainee treatment."

"The people that claimed to have been waterboarded in these articles are not any of those people," she said.

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff during the Bush administration's first term. Since leaving office, he has become an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.

In an online essay Thursday, he wrote that al Qaeda captive Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was "waterboarded" by Egyptian intelligence until he told interrogators that Baghdad trained terrorists to use chemical and biological weapons - a key element in the Bush administration's case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But Liz Cheney told ABC that Wilkerson "has made a cottage industry of out of fantasies about the vice president," and pointed out that al-Libi was not among the three al Qaeda figures the United States has admitted to subjecting to waterboarding.

And she said the former vice president - who has been publicly defending the interrogation program in recent weeks - "would not substitute his own judgment for the professionals at the CIA."

"I think that it's important for us to have all the facts out - and the first and more important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program," she said. "It saved American lives."

According to a 2006 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, al-Libi reported he told Egyptian agents about the alleged al Qaeda-Iraq link after being beaten and confined to a roughly 20-inch-by-20-inch box for 17 hours. Egypt has denied al-Libi's allegations.

Al-Libi recanted the claim in 2004, and no other evidence to support his allegation was found after the invasion of Iraq, the Intelligence Committee concluded. He died in a prison in Libya in early May, reportedly a suicide, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed senior intelligence officials, reported Saturday that two top al Qaeda figures who were subjected to waterboarding - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah - were not asked about al Qaeda and Iraq while being subjected to the practice, though they had been questioned about possible connections between the two during other sessions.

Wilkerson told CNN he could not prove his allegations in court, "but I'm pretty sure it's fairly accurate." And an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Paul Burney, also told the Pentagon's inspector-general that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp were pressed to question al Qaeda captives about any connections to Iraq, though other witnesses cited in an April report by the Senate Armed Services Committee did not recall similar pressure.

Dick Cheney criticized Powell during a television interview last weekend, saying he no longer considers Powell a fellow Republican after his former colleague endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. But Wilkerson said he is not speaking for his former boss and does not know whether Powell shares his views.

Filed under: CIA • Dick Cheney • Iraq • Liz Cheney • Popular Posts
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. HEIDI

    I don't care about what Liz and Dick are saying, WE DON'T TORTURE PERIOD!!!

    May 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt

    The only individuals at fault are the ones that started it and drafted it. Did Nancy started it? If not, LEAVE HER alone. Who poured oil on the car and lighted the match? These individuals are at fault

    Pelosi, for sure, probably did not light the deadly match. She just saw the smoke.

    May 17, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Retired US Army Officer - Kansas

    It is time for the "facts" since nothing leading up to the invasion of Iraq has turned out to be based on fact.

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Leah

    Oh, what a surprise...another Republican blog...everyone else if lieing...only Cheney is telling the truth...what a crock!!

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Rosa, b'ham al

    I don't understand why she is saying anything about this or why anyone cares. She is the daughter of the ex vice president. My dad was an engineer, I don't think any one would take my advice on building anything.

    May 17, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Ray Fisher

    I agree with Liz, the Iraq war was built upon the twisted childish thoughts of a sociopath and his evil accomplice dark Vader with a goal of taking the public's eye off the economy while they secretly drained every dime for their buddies. Even up to the Obama inauguration they continued to pass signing statements delegating power and money to their pet projects. Now we are ruined hoping our new President can sort things out. Good luck all as it is a mess for sure!!!

    May 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. RyanD.

    Look at Liz going to bat for her daddy.

    Did she work in the state department? No you say?

    Oh. Why is she talking, again?

    May 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. alvino

    At this point, it looks like Liz has more facts that the CIA does. She should name her sources and release her documents that she has taken from the state department.

    Despite the GOP hoopla, waterboarding was still illegal. Talk about a cottage industry of fantasies.

    Liz is incorrect. By falsifying the need to go to war with Iraq, it did not save lives. Over 4000 of our finest have been killed along with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

    May 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Dee, NJ

    Liz, Your Dad and Uncle Jr was in charge and said "We Won"! It was like a John Wayan Movie!

    May 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Jason

    "Waterboarding was not used to produce intelligence that linked Iraq to al Qaeda in the run-up to the war in Iraq" you want to know why....BECAUSE THERE WAS/ IS NO LINK BETWEEN IRAQ AND AL-QUADA! Frm. Ambassador Wilson said Iraq did not try to buy yellow cake uranium and what did the Bush admin. do in return....they leaked his wife's name to the press, who was an active duty CIA spy. The Bush administration only cared about one thing...invading Iraq for oil and to get revenge for the job Bush Sr. couldn't finish. I hope Cheney and his cronies rot in jail for the crimes they have committed.

    May 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. sngeorgia

    Dispicable Lizzie. Defending the indefensible. Waterboarding is Torture and a crime! Your daddy is a War Criminal without guts and a conscience. Your daddy put our country in danger. Lizzie I hope none of our servicemen are ever captured by a "hostile" country.

    May 17, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  12. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Sadly, like her father, Liz Cheney plays the politics of denial, obfuscation, and half-truths in order to pursue her political agenda. This does nothing to bolster her integrity – let alone failing to get to the bottom of the issue of torture and prisoner abuse during the Bush/Cheney years.

    May 17, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Jennifer

    When will the Cheneys stop talking? They need to go back to Wyoming and go back to their bunker!!

    May 17, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. R. Wood

    Nice Nixonian non-denial denial. L. Cheney doesn't deny the substance of the allegation-that torture was used in an attempt to get information linking Iraq and Al Qaeda. The fact that the torture didn't produce the intended results does not mean that the torture did not exist. The salient point is that it was used, not to prevent an imminent attack, but for political purposes to support the decision to go to war.

    May 17, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  15. Randall in Torrance - Proud NAVY VETERAN - Welcome to the end of the era of dumb ass republicans in power

    The words "Intelligence" and "Cheney" do not belong in the same context or sentence, unless you mean to say that Cheney fabricated Intelligence information to convince the UN and the U.S. to start an unnecessary war all for oil. Even former Chairman of the Federal U.S. Bank Reserve said "Make no, mistake, this [Iraq] war was all about oil." Who cares what Liz Cheney says, besides CNN? CNN constantly prints these little stories to showcase their obsession with meaningless events that irrelevant people keep blabbing about. There is not one single worthwhile person in the GOP who will ever speak for average Americans. Colin Powell and a few others have awaken to the fact that Obama is on the right track, however.

    May 17, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  16. Mel of Alexandria

    I believe that all the evidence point to a war looking for a reason: George W. looking to redress the insult to his father, Cheney, so that he could help his company to no bid contract, and all to power and wealth.

    May 17, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  17. janis

    Quel soprise! The ignorant, evil apple falls not too far from the tree.
    To torture, this takes a special kind of malvolence, but to openly champion and tirelessly defend torture, there are no words to capture this glaring lack of humanity and reason, nor the dearth of personal responsibility and universal awareness. Pray for the Cheneys, they need redemption. Amen and Namaste.

    May 17, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. Bea

    I'm sure that most war criminals' daughters have a hard time coming to terms with their father's sickening and evil ways.

    That said, WHY is what Liz Cheney thinks news?

    May 17, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. Russ H

    Daughter like Father and in the Bush era

    May 17, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. Trollmaster

    I'm sure Cheney would have no problem testifying under oath about this. If he did nothing wrong, he has nothing to hide.

    On the other hand if it can be proven beyond a doubt America was misled into a needless war that amounts to treason. And to let traitors go unpunished is a black mark upon this nation.

    May 17, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. W. Cunningham

    Do we really believe that Liz Cheney does not see her father through rose colored glasses. Of course she supports every word he utters. It certainly appears that if one supposedly kept this country safe for 7.5 years, anything goes and obviously they believe that any mean justifies the end regardless of its illegitimacy. By the way prior to 9-11, this country did not incur an attack on its soil since December 7, 1941!

    May 17, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  22. Chris

    Wow Liz... did Daddy tell you so? Does Daddy know everything?

    May 17, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Slow news day, eh? Next up: main stream media will start asking the daughters of every politician if they have an opinion about anything.

    May 17, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Dbow Queen City

    How would you know that Liz? Are you now privy to classified information? What is your job anyway, besides trying to lie your Dad on the positive side of history?

    May 17, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. kevincollins

    Tell ya what, Liz - how about having someone subject you to waterboarding and see if you don't cry that it's torture quicker than a Dallas Maverick playoff season?

    May 17, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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