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. Mike

    How would Liz Cheney know? Did her father reveal state secrets over dinner?

    May 17, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. David

    American lives cease to be important to save once we begin to torture; we become the enemy.

    May 17, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. Pete Gerdeman

    The war in Iraq seemed to be based on the prinse that Sadaam and his government was holding WMD. This turned out to be not the case. Therefore, those who advocated the downfall and removal of Sadaam and his two sons, may appear to be on shaky ground. The renditions and other extraordinary means of intelligence extraction, have not changed some facts: that no one from Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks on the US; that those who did attacke us came primarliy from Egypt and Saudi Arabia (which we did not counter-attack); and that there were ZERO basis for attack on Iraq w.r.t. the attackes on 9/11. Some of us look forward to a more thorough examintation of the events leading up to the war in Iraq,
    Thank you,
    Pete Gerdeman

    May 17, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Notnek

    Just how does Liz Chaney know ?????????? You mean daddy Dick passed tops secrets to his daughter..???? Over 5000 thousand good men and women dead and thousands wounded by the callous actions of George W and Dick. They sure made America proud don't you think????????

    May 17, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Francheska

    "Nobody who is talking about this in the press has any knowledge of specific detainee treatment."

    So does this mean that Liz Cheney, herself, has no real knowledge of how detainees were treated, so she can not judge if they were tortured or not. Which means by her saying that waterboarding was not torture, that she is only out to help daddy dearest.

    May 17, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    If you make a claim-ie:iraq has ties with alqueda, then start torturing a prisoner and let him know you will stop only when he backs up your lies, guess what? He will lie to get you to stop! With enough torture a prisoner would be coerced into stating bush was intelligent, or cheney was honest!

    May 17, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  7. Peter E

    Face it people: the CIA, and Bush himself have explicitely stated that NO connection between Al Quaida and Iraq was ever found! You can read the final report from 2005 on the CIA's own website! Al Quaida arrived in Iraq subsequent to our invasion and destruction of that country. WE made Iraq into a terrorist safehaven. We created more terrorists than Al Quaida ever had before with this sensless, greedy war that only put your taxpayer dollars into the pockets of Cheney's oil buddies! We are less safe than we were before. Cheney needs to be tried as a war criminal, for misleading the country, for embezlement of taxpayer dollars, for the senseless murder of thousands of American soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians!

    May 17, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. Chris W

    I couldn't even read this article as I realized a few sentences in how this woman has been so badly treated by her own family due to her sexuality and then she's right there mixed in with them all with this torture business. What a sick bunch of people, her moral compass is as whacked out as her parents. It's just disgusting.

    May 17, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. Robin in Tampa, FL

    Liz Cheney is about as credible as Micky Mouse on this issue. I highly doubt her father (Dick Cheney of all people) would have even allowed her to see highly classified government information. Whatever she says is in the interests of protecting her father and cannot be trusted.

    May 17, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. Eric Hudnall

    Liz Cheney? Who is Liz Cheney? Is she an elected official? Is she an employee of the US government? Who are you speaking for Liz? How do you know anything about anything? Dick Cheney is a bad man that has left this great nation in a real bind, but I bet he can speak for himself. He (and We the people) do not need his little girl spouting off. Either run for office, or sign up with an agency Liz. Till then, shut the hell up!

    May 17, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  11. Robert

    How can Liz Cheney know these things? It seems illegal for her to know non-public information about national security. She wasn't elected. She wasn't even living in the White House.

    May 17, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. Steve in St. Lou

    How the heck would she know?

    May 17, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. No Incumbents in 2010

    According to Liz Cheney, the only people who have been waterboarded are those who admitted to being subjected to waterboarding. Since when did Liz Cheney have a security clearance to see the "cooked intelligence" created by waterboarding? Liz Cheney has no evidence that torture saved American lives. In fact, torture has made it easier for Al-Qaeda to recruit young men. Maj. Paul Burney said interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp were pressed to question al Qaeda captives about any connections to Iraq.

    May 17, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Mike in Kansas

    Liz, go give your father some comfort. He will have a rather prolonged as in permanent visit with Lucifer and he needs all the comfort he can get in the meantime.

    May 17, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  15. Dexter Skagway

    Watch the Republicans who were flipping out about Pelosi lying now do their flip-flop hypocrisy and defend this bald-faced lie with their usual frothing rage.

    May 17, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. Blake Southwood

    What's with the Cheneys' vs. The Rest of America?
    They just don't get it. The Cheney's should write a book
    and turn off the hot air.

    May 17, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  17. Jerrold Stein

    Liz Cheney is simply trying to run interference and protect her father who legitamitely should be held accountable for breaking the laws of this country. The senior Cheney has truly negatively impacted the values that we as Americans hold dear and stand for. He may never be held accountable for what he has done but it would be appropriate for he and his family to remove themselves from the public spotlight and allow this nation to heal.

    May 17, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  18. Steve

    Why do you cover Liz Cheney? There is no crebility here. You are just as much a joke as she is by covering this nonsense.

    May 17, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. Hankers

    If Liz has inside information that is not public, is that not a breach by her Father?

    May 17, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. zen guerrilla

    like father, like daughter... unapologetic, delusional, liars. good riddance.

    May 17, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Tom

    OMG....Just shut-up Lez!..I mean Liz

    May 17, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. DL

    Frontline did a wonderful episode on this. They interviewed the people at the CIA who were told to manipulate the intelligence, what they could include, what they couldn't. Every bit of it was done by Cheney. It was deliberately falsified.

    May 17, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Ruty

    The Iraq war was built on a lie. There were NO weapons of mass destruction. Please tell me why did we invade Iraq and got over 4 thousand YOUNG men and women killed for no reason? Don't tell me it was to keep our country safe. That is another lie.

    May 17, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  24. steven minier

    I have had a belly full of all the Cheneys. They are nothing but right wing extremists and the daughter is the worst. No self respecting gay person can be a Republican and for her to defend torture is dispicable.

    May 17, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  25. rob in vegas

    yeah, cause she would know? if she really did know, then i guess that "classified information" isn't all that classified now is it?

    May 17, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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