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. andrewstl

    liz, hopefully they put your dad in a prison close to you. that way you can see him rot from a close distance

    May 17, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. Bronncohowie

    Dick & Liz = total father/daughter lie machine !!! Why should anyone believe ANYTHING these LIARS say ?? The Iraq "war" was built on one lie after another. The Bush administration was very adept at one thing = LIES !!! How stupid does the Cheney family think Americans are ?? Cheney (father & daughter) please just GO AWAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 17, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  3. B.H.

    These people are living in a bubble and should be investigated by a independent commission. Both of the Cheneys are together in this outrageous mess and liars as well.

    May 17, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. RichR

    I don't believe Liz Cheney any more than I believe the collective of liars that made up the Bush administration.

    When all the facts are out, I'm sure we can have a debate based upon history, rather than ideology.

    I have my own view, and it's in direct opposition of anyone named Cheney....

    May 17, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. awv

    Cheneys, shut the hell up once and for all – all of you

    May 17, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. P from CA

    Why is Liz Cheney a credible source on the war and torture?

    May 17, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Jack Black

    Can someone tell me why we would care what Cheney's daughter has to say? Can someone tell me why CNN is reporting what she has to say? Unless, of course, she would like to be held accountable and put on trial as well for the illegal techniques employed during interrogation. I assume if she has such a strong opinion on these matters that it logically follows that she had full prior knowledge as well. I can sense a future run for political thank you.

    May 17, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Shut up Liz!

    May 17, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. Brian

    Why does Liz Cheney have an opinion that warrants public scrutiny? I barely care what Dick Cheney thinks now that we have a new administration. It's time for them both to go away.

    May 17, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Karen - Missouri

    Dick and Liz Cheney should drop out of sight...they're an embarrassment right now. I am an independent, but have the utmost respect for Colin Powell. For Cheney to attack Powell is dumb...most of the country loves Powell no matter what political affiliation. the Cheney's are killing the Republican Party even more than it is already.

    May 17, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. lefty

    Ms. Cheney, will you and your father please take you toys and go home? This line is really getting old.

    May 17, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  12. proud army navy mom

    liz is trying to keep her diddy out of prison. who cares what she says?

    She has learned evil and to lie from the original devil, her father

    May 17, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. Pacollegegirl

    Liz YOU are a LIAR just like your daddy! I PRAY the BOTH of you wind up in JAIL!

    May 17, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. Jim

    Who is Liz Cheney? Amazing how we've never heard of her until the events/news of the past few months became public. I find it difficult to believe that a low level, political/nepotomistic position in the DoS would have any knowledge of any of the iterrogation techniques–torture or otherwise–that our intelligence agencies may have needed. Is she not more famous as Dick's lesbo daughter than anyone with 1/3 a brain anyway?

    And yes, I vote right (most of the time).

    May 17, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. ronald

    Frankly, who cares what this woman thinks?

    May 17, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Richard Dassance

    I am surprised that the words of Liz Cheney are considered news. I would hope that CNN would either clarify why she is considered a credible source on "enhanced interrogation techniques" or apologize for artificially fanning emotional flames.

    May 17, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. Peter Guo

    Dick Cheney did so many bad things to the country, and he still feel he has reasons to show on the national TV, he need to be sent to jail as war criminals.

    May 17, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Ben

    The more I read about the last eight years, the less I like Dick Cheney. And I didn't like him in the first place.

    May 17, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  19. thnkb4uspk

    She, like her father and the rest of the gray men, needs to go away.

    May 17, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. Dan

    "Waterboarding was not used to produce intelligence that linked Iraq to al Qaeda in the run-up to the war in Iraq,"

    That's because there was NO intelligence that linked Iraq to al Queda. Only your dad's lies.

    May 17, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. If Liz Cheney said it about her dad then we need to quit questioning

    Liz Cheney wouldn't take her dad's side unless it were true...


    This complete argument is soooooooo biased

    When will we hear from his wife telling us how wrong the questions are?

    May 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Lauren

    The repubs can continue to say that the Iraq war was justified because of WMD's, but even before all this waterboarding flap came out we all knew they were lying.

    There were no WMD's period, end of story, and we all know it.

    May 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Royster

    Perhaps Liz Cheney should recall that in the followup investigation about the quasi-intelligence that led up to the Iraq war By Bush II..there WAS no connection between Al Queda and Iraq (Saddam Hussein), and Iraq had NO weapons of mass destruction.

    So now I am supposed to believe Cheney's daughter over a top stater dept official while she tries to bury her Dad's sordid legacy of torture?? NO THANKS LIZ! We know about your father, quit the spin control and get ready for the war trial!

    May 17, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    dicky cheney is a dork who had almost the total control of the presidency . how scary is that thought ?
    negative about everything but his own agenda . and that agenda is based on war mongering threats world wide .. history tells us that it won't work and hasn't worked for other bigoted control freaks with personal issues and agendas.
    he is the reason our government has checks and balances and people have to and should answer for their crimes and lies

    so when ex vp Cheney wakes up some morning real soon and stands up and admits his and the Bush plan failed . and tells the truth . he will be a better man for it.. but it is not likely he will do so. he still thinks he is incharge of our great nation and he is used to getting his way.

    May 17, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. jb

    It doesnt matter what Liz, or Dick or any other person in the administration has to say, they are certainly scarred about the intent to prosecute them... I hope CNN just completely stops broadcasting this loosers excuses or anyrhing else the looser has to say for that matter.

    May 17, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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