November 3, 2005
Dick Cheney: instrument of torture
What is it with this administration and torture?
Dana Priest reports in The Washington Post that even the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine operators are getting nervous about the network of secret prisons they have around the world - including, of all places, at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe.
… Ms. Priest reports that of the more than 100 prisoners sent by the C.I.A. to its “black site” camps, only 30 are considered major terrorism suspects, and some have presumably been kept so long that their information is out of date. The rest have limited intelligence value, according to The Post, and many of them have been subjected to the odious United States practice of shipping prisoners to countries like Egypt, Jordan and Morocco and pretending that they won’t be tortured.
Like so many of the most distressing stories these days - the outing of Valerie Wilson and questions about the intelligence on Iraq also come to mind - this one circles right back to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.
Mr. Cheney, a prime mover behind the attempts to legalize torture, is now leading a back-room fight to block a measure passed by the Senate, 90 to 9, that would impose international standards and American laws on the treatment of prisoners. Mr. Cheney wants a different version, one that would make the C.I.A.’s camps legal, although still hidden, and authorize the use of torture by intelligence agents. Mr. Bush is threatening to veto the entire military budget over this issue.
When his right-hand man, Lewis Libby, resigned after being indicted on charges relating to team Cheney’s counterattack against Joseph Wilson, Mr. Cheney replaced him with David Addington, who helped draft the infamous legalized-torture memo of 2002. Mr. Addington is now blocking or weakening proposed changes to the prison policies.
Which makes yesterday’s comments by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley ring even more hollow:
Hadley said that “while we have to do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorist attacks and to win the war on terror, the president has been very clear that we're going to do that in a way that is consistent with our values.”
“And that is why he's been very clear that the United States will not torture,” Had-ley said, responding to questions at a White House briefing. “The United States will conduct its activities in compliance with law and international obligations.”
Asked about secret prisons, Hadley said, “The fact that they are secret, assuming there are such sites, does not mean” torture would be tolerated. “Some people say that the test of your principles (is) what you do when no one’s looking. And the president has insisted that whether it is in the public or it is in the private, the same principles will apply and the same principles will be respected. And to the extent people do not meet up, measure up to those principles, there will be accountability and responsibility.”
Except for Dick.
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