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. NotNowMooky

    Gosh, if you can't believe Liz Cheney who CAN you believe? Lord knows a daughter would never lie to support her father!

    May 17, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. DMR

    We should believe Liz Chaney why? I believe nothing that comes out of the mouth of Dick Chaney or any of his immediate family. I have seen no reason to.

    May 17, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    The illegal invasion of Iraq was based on purposeful LIES by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the CIA.

    There's no getting around that. And the current attempt to somehow pin the blame on Nancy Pelosi for knowledge of Bush's torture program is moronic, but par for the GOP course.

    May 17, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Andy

    Who cares what Dick Cheney's daughter has to say about anything? She's the only person in the US that I care less about than Dick Cheney. Let's just let the federal probe tell us exactly what happened, and if that's too complicated for some people then Obama can spell it out for them. Nobody cares what anyone from the time frame with an R in front of their name has to say. Period.

    May 17, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. Doug

    More shadows. Great.

    May 17, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Deliberate Obfuscation

    Sounds like Liz is talking about her father waterboarding three people with the CIA's help as a distraction from what Wilkerson is saying, which is separate waterboarding of a legitimate Iraqi POW "by Egyptian intelligence until he told interrogators that Baghdad trained terrorists to use chemical and biological weapons". Sounds like a non-denial denial.

    May 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Sarah K.

    Wilkerson's "but I'm pretty sure it's fairly accurate." is awfully vague. Also, why is it wrong to interrogate detainees about the connection between Iraq and Al Queda? This Monday morning quarterbacking is regrettable. I hope that Obama never has to deal with a surprise horrific attack that Bush had to deal with but if he does I hope that we will all be patient with his response. It is WAY too easy to criticize those who had to deal with something that most of us would be incapable of handling. Of course there were mistakes, how could there not have been, but this "lynch them all" mentality is counter productive.

    May 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Pedro

    I really don't mind Meghan McCain's comments because they are people issues, not hard policy. Liz Cheney, however, is WAY out of line throwing this out there and CNN is even more out of line reporting it like we should care. Lizzie – get elected or sit down. CNN – use this rule for hard news or DON'T PRINT IT. Shame on you both.

    May 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Love My Country

    I am really sick and tire of the Cheneys for running their mouths and defending the war that they made up to enrich their oil buddies while getting thousands of our young men and women die for nothing.

    Look at Steven Green, the result of this failed war and now he is facing death sentence while these arrogant Cheneys get to sit around and run their mouths off. I hope they will prosecute everyone of these Cheneys.

    May 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Ted Tartaglia

    Liz Cheney is as big a buffoon as her father. There was never a link between al Qaeda and Iraq as Dick Cheney claimed. This piece of misinformation has been disproven over and over. Dick Cheney and Liz are just trying to rewrite history to shift the blame from them to someone else.

    The Cheneys should stop shooting from the lip and start shooting from the hip, a practice Dick is proficient at even if Liz isn't. Here is some good advice for most of the Republicans speaking out today. It is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.

    May 17, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. Bob J

    why WHY WHY is the media giving a voice to another Cheney...Please make it stop!

    May 17, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. John

    Hey Liz., go have a nice seafood dinner and shut the hell up. .most of America is tired of you, your bastard father, and your pretentious mother. Get Lost!!!

    May 17, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. John

    Sorry, but the dots have been connected and the facts are the facts. Your OPINION doesn't matter.

    Investigate! Prosecute!

    May 17, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Brandon

    Wow... she was briefed?

    Either she does not know what she is talking about, or some illegal briefing went on with her. What is it?

    May 17, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. Dave from Reality

    I'm sorry, who appointed you spokesman on any of this? Who cares what this woman thinks? Really?

    Bad enough DICK is the most sinister, greedy, corrupt, lying politician to occupy this generation (I'm counting Nixon). But the only time I've even heard of his daughter is when he's explaining why he's against gay marriage when his daughter is a lesbian.

    May 17, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. Pedro Goldstein

    My advice to the Cheney;s using the words of their hero Bill O'Reilly – "JUST SHUT UP"

    May 17, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. Matt

    Since when is the VP's daughter the expert on what goes on in the white house and army?

    May 17, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Liz Cheney talking politics?!! Really? I hope this is a joke.

    May 17, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. TM in CO

    I really wish that members of the Bush administration would quit trying to find reasons for the Iraq invasion. That is what it boils down to, pure invasion. No WMD, no ties to bin Forgottens group until after we invaded their country. Get a clue Lizzy.

    May 17, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. Richard Wagner

    Sorry Liz, I don't believe you. You're a lying liar.

    Here's what happened. Torture was used to elicit false confessions – specifically, the false confession that Al-Qaeda was tied to Iraq and that Iraq had WMD's. Reason: Saddam Hussein was a threat to US access to the oil in the region.

    Some things just make too much sense.

    May 17, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. ancient river

    Maybe Bush aught to have Barney making some statements, too, because that is about how appropriate it is for Liz Cheyney to be making these remarks. To think how Gore and Carte, who actually held ELECTED offices, were shouted down by Republicans for one or two sentences of dissent with their policies as being inappopriate, and yet even the spouses of former officials are now entitled to go on at length-and be well covered by the media.

    May 17, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  22. Big-K

    Liz is desperate in her attempts to cloud over the fact that her father is and was knee deep in the muck involving torture, lies,war crimes and serious International civil rights violations.

    May 17, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. Daniel

    if the Vader family somehow felt that we needed they hear their opinion, Papa Vader should have run in the election...

    May 17, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. Rand Paul 2010

    It has been well documented that the public case for the undeclared Iraq War was based on false intelligence obtained by waterboarding detainees.

    May 17, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Mick

    It's comical that a self-professed lesbian is a spokesperson for the party of intolerance. It's understandable I suppose that she's standing up for her daddy although Bush stood up for his daddy and invaded Iraq so Liz yapping on TV could be worse I suppose.

    Ms. Cheney, to the best of my recollection you were neither a member of the Bush administration security apparatus nor a public servant in either the intelligence or military communities so your credibility on this subject is less than zero.

    Unless, of course, your father has been sharing classified information with you in which case he should be prosecuted.

    May 17, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
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