May 17th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
11 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. gl, Pittsburgh

    If you have not committ a crime, you don't have to defend your self day in and day out like the Cheneny are doing. Liz is a liar like her father. She is just making noise to cover up her father war crime. Waterboarding is a crime.

    May 17, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. andrew doig

    she is just like her father – the consumate liar

    May 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. Josh

    zzzz... More Cheney ...zzzz

    May 17, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. Jim

    No one cares what she thinks.

    May 17, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. Ben T.

    Why CNN keeps reporting on this woman who is willing to saying anything to get on the News?

    She like her father Dick, has no place in today's politics anymore. The Bush era is OVER. I am deeply disappointed in CNN reporting on someone who is not in any position to talk foreign policy.

    May 17, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. Jack in TampaBay

    I thought the Cheney's were OUT OF OFFICE????? Who really cares what they say?

    May 17, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. Tom Dawson

    It's a puzzle why anyone is listening to this woman and quoting her in the world press. Of course she'll defend her father no matter what he did and/or approved.

    May 17, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. John Farren

    Ms. Cheney misses the point. If her father ordered the waterboarding of detained combatants for a fictitious link, then he should be tried for war crimes. Too many people have died for her father's and Mr. Rumsfeld's crusade.

    May 17, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Adam Artis

    Just what is it that the Cheney family wants in the long run?

    May 17, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. RobertO

    Who gives a rat's patoot what Liz CHeney says about anything?

    May 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    My opinion is that Liz Cheney's opinion regarding her father cannot be objective and therefore not credible. I am interested however in hearing her analysis of the Bush White House legal interpretation on whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    May 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Austin

    So if what this Wilkerson guy says is true, then no only did torture not save American lives, it ended thousands. Irony really is lost on a lot of people these days....

    May 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Terry

    He finally did confess though, didn't he? This proves the former vice president's wisdom. If you torture people long enough, they will eventully confess, thus proving that torture works.

    Now I want to waterboard everyone who voted for Bush until they confess that they are wrong, that Liberalism is the one true way.

    May 17, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. Susan

    whats the deal with Republican leaders' daughters?

    First Meghan McCain's blogs then Bristol Palin's "activism for preventing teen pregnancy" and now Liz Cheney's "expert" comments.

    May 17, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Kevin M. O'Neill

    Vice President Cheney did whatever he wanted, and currently says whatever he wants, due to sheer arrogance. There was no one, either below him or above him, with the strength of character to rein him in. That continues today.

    May 17, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. karkri

    who is Liz Cheney again?

    May 17, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  17. Dace Tucson

    What a heart warming story – The Cheney Family Torture Tour. Gee pops how many did you beat, humiliate, sexually abuse, and almost drown today. Oh golly pops that's so great I am going to go out and tell all my friends what a good role model you are. Can I help next time? Sick sick sick!

    May 17, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Had It

    Liz Cheney seems to have inherited her father's lying capabilities. I don't trust any of the Cheneys.

    May 17, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Dave

    how the heck does liz cheney know anything about anything? stop giving her a podium to speak on, cnn.

    May 17, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. vegage

    She should be ashamed of what her dad did, and now she is just an horrendous being in all this horrible and un-human thing. Republicans did the same as germans and japanese did to our troops in second world war, they tortured. My God, our government tried japanese officials back that because they waterboard our troops, don't understand why now it is not that a too bad thing for Republicans. Thanks God they are no in power anymore and I really hope that are kept out for ever, actually, I would like to live to see the disappearance of this horrible political party.

    May 17, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. Dubious Reader

    Did the entire national security apparatus of the US Government report directly to Liz Cheney? I know she worked at the State Dept. but what kind of access does she actually have to highly classified material regarding the safety and security of the United States? Did she have the access as the President or Vice President? Or is she simply defending her daddy?

    I couldn't help but notice that this information is missing from this article. You print her allegations and her opinions without noting if she knows anymore than Sasha or Malia. Nice. Very thorough. Keep up the good work.

    May 17, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Adrian Veidt

    Is there anyone in America who is interested in hearing the opinion of ANYONE named Cheney?

    May 17, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. Jeremy

    Since this Iraq war seems to be family thing,can Dick Cheney,Bush family and Republicans produce WMD? What was the motive to invade Iraq and who benefited from this evil war? I fought the hell in Mosul and Kirkuk for a year. I need an answer to what was fighting for.

    May 17, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Carl Justus

    Liz Cheney is like her father, she will lie to protect or expound their ideas of what they pursued to try to convince the American people they were doing what was right.

    If waterboarding is not torture, why did we put to death Japanese who waterboarded American prisoners of war after WWII????

    May 17, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. MikefromWV

    As if anyone is going to believe anything Liz Cheney has to say about torture and waterboarding!!
    Dick Cheney, plain and simple, is scared to death - as well he should be! My great hope in life is that all who were involved in torture of any form, whatsoever, be brought before the bar of justice, found guilty of their crimes - and sentenced to prison for a very long time.

    May 17, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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