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. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    Who is this woman and why does she have a mic? She is as mean and irritating as that old man she calls her father.

    May 17, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Mark

    "would not substitute his own judgment for the professionals at the CIA."

    That would be because he removed or neutralized anyone at the CIA that disagreed with him. Much like what occurred with the Pentagon and the Defense Policy Board.

    May 17, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. CAW in MD

    It doesn't matter if the Vice President thought it was a good program, or supported the program, or even that it saved American lives. It is illegal under international law that the US signed up to. No tortured (pardon the pun) logic from the Justice Department obviates the fact that what was done was illegal. Either we are a nation of laws or we are not.

    Republicans can throw as many distractions or side shows in front of the American public as they want, but the basic facts of the matter do not change - what was done in America's name under a Republican administration was illegal. Period.

    May 17, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. Mr. Davidson

    It has been proven however that when thinking the worse in this case will put you closer to the truth.

    May 17, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Mike

    I really would not believe anything a cheney says. Not saying I'd believe wilkerson either. But definitely I ignore the cheney clan statements. They are living in their own little world and always have. Thank god they have no power anymore

    May 17, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. John Desmond

    Liz Cheney is a moron on this subject, "gosh, Daddy told me to say it, so it must be right" Where's Curious George ?

    May 17, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Matt

    the bottom line is that several thousand american soldiers were killed, several thousand horribly wounded, tens of of thousands of iraqi civilians killed, all because of premeditated lies by cheney and bush. they are both guilty of treason and they should be punished as traitors to this country.

    May 17, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Anne

    Cheney is a war criminal and his daughter is pig ignorant if she believes her father is so wonderful.

    May 17, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Witness to a Circus

    CNN and this reporter over-estimate the public's interest in politicians' kids' opinions. Stop the idol worship or go to work for an entertainment show. What a waste of reporting.

    May 17, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Patricia Hicks

    Why is Dick , Lynn and Liz Cheney still talking, should'nt Dick be in federal prison for the crimes he, Bush, Rummy, and Wolfewowitz committed.

    May 17, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. alicethurson

    Liz Cheney was elected by NO one, at NO time. NO comment from her means anything.

    May 17, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    So this means that torture and information gamed from torture is right and justified... gotcha. I'm glad Liz Chaney is here to clear that up for us.

    May 17, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Why even waste time quoting his daughter? CNN should be totally ashamed of itself for adding this National Enquierer nonsense....get a life soon.

    May 17, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. Sky Rider

    Liz is right. it wasn't waterboarding that was used to build up the case for was it was LIES white lies based on her whimsical fathers satanic notions that were used to go to war against Iraq. Liz is talking as though Dick Cheney got her permission before taking any decision. She seems to ready to shoot off her mouth to defend actions taken like she was the president who was been told of all the decisions drawn. Now if she wants to generate some revenues for herself there are other ways that she could possibly explore than to build on her fathers lies.

    May 17, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Please dont put daddy in prison.Whats killing a few people under false pretext?They werent republicans.

    May 17, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Tulsa L

    It was against the LAW (do you Cheney's no what that means) this torrure put American on the hit list of every terrorist out there, now Obama has to go out there and clean up the mess Bush and your daddy got us into.......pretty sad when your daughter has to come out and defend you (Cheney) to this country. Funny how Bush hasn't even come out to defend his own policies........I'm being to think he is smarter than Cheney........Cheney has said more in the last 2 weeks then he has ever said in the last 8 years........

    May 17, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. texasgreenacres

    the apple don't fall to far from the we're able to tell from this article

    May 17, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. PAUL W

    Why is the "Dirty Little Secret" of the Chaney Family allowed to talk and why in the hell is CNN granting so much coverage of this nobody?

    May 17, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  19. Phil64

    Face it Liz, your father is one of the most horrible criminals that the USA has ever known. It pains me to say this because once upon a time I respected and voted for him. He is a disgrace to our country.

    May 17, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. gl, Pittsburgh

    Who the hell give a dam about what the Chenecy have to say. Dick Chenecy is a war crimial period.

    May 17, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. Angela

    Liz Cheney a source?? She is the daughter of an ex president who got a patronage job by virtue of being her daddy's little girl. I have doubts, severe doubts that she is any more honest or honorable than her parents who have been caught repeatedly lying. The professionals in the CIA have said that the torture caused people to quit talking, that they were giving good evidence till Cheney decided he needed a link between Iraq and Alquaeda. Once they were tortured nothing. Even with torture they came up with no proof of a link, Liars lie!!

    May 17, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. Aaron B.

    why is liz cheney suddely on here?

    May 17, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. Dee-Norfolk,VA

    Well, for once a Cheney is right. Iraq wasn't built on waterboarding. It was built using a lie, and waterboarding was used to connect Iraq to 9/11.

    Top military service members, other than Powell have said that waterboarding is wrong. It is illegal. We must not lower ourselves to their level.

    Dick Cheney needs to apologize to General Powell.

    Virginia Blue Veterans!

    May 17, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Ted

    Is there a reason why CNN keeps reporting what this dumb woman has to say? She is as dumb as her father and just as angry. Does she know anything or is she just dumb.

    May 17, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. RONNIE

    No Liz the war in Iraq was built on lies by your father and his puppet Bush.You must be blinded by the far right to believe otherwise.

    May 17, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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