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. Scotty Larsen

    Dear Cheney's, go home you've been replaced, and most Americans don't like you or believe you. Thank you, Scotty

    May 17, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. Mary B

    I just recently starteed seeing her on tv.....she seems down to earth and well informed....she has alot going for her

    May 17, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Buddy Gilmour

    Liz Cheney states that her dad Dick Cheney "would not substitute his own judgment for the professionals at the CIA." Who does she think she is kidding? Its pretty obvious that, just like her dad, she thinks we are all idiots.

    May 17, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. bill

    we don't need to listen to another idoit cheney telling us more lies and b.s. They just all need to go away and hid in rose colored world. Im tired of DICK and his right wing exstremest lies that got us where we are now . They put the whole country in more danger with thier lies and now we have to climb out of this hole.

    May 17, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  5. dave

    crud story. who cares what the little bimbo says? Daddy told her what to say. He is a criminal – he sanctions torture. The ends justify the means to these criminals. Who, exactly, is the terrorist? this too shall pass...

    May 17, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  6. FactCheck

    Frankly this would have more credibility if it came from Ann Coulter. The Republican party is permanently disabled.

    May 17, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Bob

    Somebody tell me again why we we should listen to Liz Cheney, the half-wit daughter of "five deferment" Cheney on anything to do with war.

    May 17, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  8. Independent

    No, the Iraq war was not built on was built on LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 17, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. John

    No Liz, The Iraq War was built in your husbands secret meetings with the energy executives and the waterboarding was just another lie to justify it!

    May 17, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Steve

    And she knows how? Was she privy to internal CIA-White House breafings?

    May 17, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. gasyusblast

    I watched this roundtable today and it was interesting with all the sides taking a poke at each other, but i have to admit liz ( darth vaders daughter) cheney did a fine job strongly punching holes in james carvile and george stephanoplas< i dont think i spelled that right.

    May 17, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Bill S.

    Okay! How much longer are we going to hear from "Tricky Dick" and his daughter about the torture stories. All that matters is that torture techniques were used by the Bush administration. Besides, where does Liz fit in all this? I thought everything that administration was classified. Liz got top security clearance and witnessed non-torture? Gimme a break!

    May 17, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. The Truth

    I love the Cheney family. They are true patriots. If there is one person I would trust to keep the country safe, it's Dick Cheney.

    And some of you dumbocrats need to get your facts straight.....the Bush administration never lied about waterboarding, on the contrary, they admitted it. What they contend is that waterboarding is not torture and they are correct about that.

    May 17, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  14. DougDC

    Let's see, what do we have here:

    (a) A woman defending her Daddy
    (b) A former nepotism employee of the State Department
    (c) Someone's whose opinion is (sorry CNN) not newsworthy, or
    (d) all of the above.

    The correct answer, is (d) all of the above.

    May 17, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  15. PA indy

    No, the Iraq war was built on lies about Iraqi involvement with Al-Quaeda, aluminum tubes, yellow cake from Niger and mobile chemical warfare labs. The fact is, the neo-cons came into office with their eyes already on Iraq and Sadam, 9/11 was just their excuse to have their war.

    May 17, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Michael

    Who asked her? And more importantly, why would anyone care what she has to say? Of course she's going to back daddy's story. What did you think she would say? Have the monkeys actually taken over at CNN?

    May 17, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. D-burg Boy

    It's so nice that Liz is willing to stand up for her Dad, while he sat silent when the Republicans denied gays any voice or rights. She obviously has more familial loyalty than he does. So much for his family values.

    May 17, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. Terry R Godsey

    Liz Chenney? Who in the hell is she? Just because she worked for the State department doesn't make her an expert on the facts. Further, she is totally biased in protecting the reputation of her father. I can't believe a word out of Dick's mouth and I most certainly cannot hold her as a credable witness to the facts. The bottom line is that anyone undergoing torture will confess to anything to get the treatment to stop.

    May 17, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  19. charles

    Liz Cheney is NOT going to say anything except what her hubbie wants her to say. She was part of the administration from the get-go. Who would expect her to differ from Darth Vader when it comes to telling the whole story?

    The facts are known. Iraq was wrong from the beginning. It is still wrong today. Tyhe Cheneys continued to pad their wealth through companies tied to the invasion and the contractors. She is not a reputable spokesperson on anything related to the failed Bush Administration because she and her family were part of it.

    May 17, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  20. hongli

    Why is Lis Cheney speaking. Is she the Mouth Piece for the GOP. I'm sorry, I forget She is gay.

    May 17, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  21. betty c

    So what does spoiled opinionated, narrow minded, rich girl Cheney know about anything. She got a top job in government because of Daddy, as well as a top job at American Enterprise Institute because of Daddy. There is too much of her evil Daddy in her sphere of influence to be able to either trust her intellect or take her seriously.

    May 17, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Liz Cheney???? Huh??? Daddy is pumping up her daughter for GOP? It is sad when you get your daughter involved ..... it is really desperate when you use your family ..............


    May 17, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. David

    I would ask the GOP and Bush to show there proof for the invasion of Iraq. Otherwise, please shut-up and stop pointing fingers.

    May 17, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
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