Fact Sheet: Vice President Cheney Debunked

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brenda Bowser Soder
bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org / 202-370-3323

Fact Sheet: Vice President Cheney Debunked

NEW YORK - Today, former Vice President Cheney continues his pro-torture
public relations tour with a speech at the American Enterprise
Institute.  His listeners can expect to hear more arguments for the use
of torture and abuse.  What they won't hear from Vice President Cheney
is that national security experts overwhelmingly disagree with his
assessment about the value of resorting to abusive policies.  Those
with experience conducting interrogations, leading forces in the
military, and doing the work of keeping America safe overwhelming
reject the use of torture. 

Vice President Cheney says torture prevented attacks following 9/11.
Repeatedly, Vice President Cheney has said that information gained by
torturing detainees has been crucial in helping the government "defeat
or disrupt all further attempts to strike the homeland" (ABC News, Dec. 16, 2008). He says without torture, "we would have been attacked again" (Politico.com, Feb. 4, 2009).
Cheney even goes so far as to say that removing the ability to use
torture is making the nation less safe. He said Obama is making choices
that "raise the risk to the American people of another attack." (CNN, March 15 2009.)

  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: FBI Director Robert Mueller says that isn't the case. When Vanity Fair asked if torture prevented additional attacks, Mueller said "I don't believe that has been the case." (Vanity Fair, Dec. 16, 2008).
  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: Interrogator says the use of torture has led to American deaths in Iraq.  Military
    interrogator Matthew Alexander says that it is torture that is
    recruiting for the enemy: "I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason
    foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at
    Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and
    swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq... It's no exaggeration
    to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country
    have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our
    program of detainee abuse." He goes on to quantify the costs of
    torture: "The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our
    torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say
    that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How
    anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless
    you don't count American soldiers as Americans." (Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2008)
  • Vice President Cheney Debunked:  "This war
    will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of
    potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the
    enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable
    in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds
    into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down
    the road to it. (Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, Washington Post Op-Ed, May 17, 2009)

Vice President Cheney says that crucial information has been revealed through torture. "Well,
I would say that the key to what we did was to collect intelligence
against the enemy. That's what the terrorist surveillance program was
all about, that's what the enhanced interrogation program was all
about."(CNN, March 15 2009)

  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: Experienced interrogators says torture doesn't "work". 
    Fifteen former interrogators from both the CIA and FBI stated in a
    statement that "the use of torture and other inhumane and abusive
    treatment results in false and misleading information, loss of critical
    intelligence, and has caused serious damage to the reputation and
    standing of the United States." ("Top Interrogators Declare Torture
    Ineffective in Intelligence Gathering,"  June 24, 2008)
  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: Even Jesse Venture knows that the information revealed through torture cannot be relied upon.
    As Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota, puts it, "You give me a
    water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the
    Sharon Tate murders." Jesse Ventura has in fact been water boarded in
    preparation for his service in Vietnam. He says, from personal
    experience, that it constitutes torture. (CNN, May 12, 2009)
  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: Abu Zabaydah said he gave up false information simply to stop being tortured. In
    his Combatant Status Review Tribunal, the tribunal president asked him:
    "So I understand that during this treatment, you said things to make
    them stop and then those statements were actually untrue, is that
    correct?" Abu Zubaydah replied: "Yes." (Combatant Status-Review Tribunal" at Guantánamo, March 27, 2007)

Vice President Cheney claims that a "wartime situation" justifies torture.
Cheney says that after 9/11, methods of law enforcement were no longer
applicable. After 9/11, he said it was a "wartime situation." Such a
situation, according to Cheney, justifies using all your "intelligence
resources, your military resources, your financial resources,
everything you can in order to shut down that terrorist threat against
you." According to Cheney, the wartime situation justifies the use of
torture. (CNN, March 15, 2009)

  • Vice President Cheney Debunked: General David Petraeus rejects torture. In
    a letter to his troops in Iraq, General Petraeus clearly states that
    torture is not only illegal, but also not useful and not necessary:
    "Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned
    torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the
    enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are
    illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor
    necessary. Certainly extreme physical action can makes someone "talk;"
    however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In
    fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out
    in the Army Field Manuel (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector
    Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in
    the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from
    detainees." (Letter to the Troops, May 10, 2007).

Former Vice President Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney, justifies torture in the context of a ticking time bomb situation. She
says "We are talking about a situation when there are imminent threats
against the united states so if you to me, this guys has got
information that is going to save your kid's life and my kids' lives,
that is going to keep this country safe, but we gotta water board him
to get it, I got no problem with that." (MSNBC, May 12, 2009)

  • Liz Cheney Debunked Ticking time bomb situations are fictional, according to a former CIA officer. A
    retired senior CIA officer said in an interview with David Rose that
    "Nobody in intelligence believes in the ticking bomb. It's just a way
    of framing the debate for public consumption. That is not an
    intelligence reality." In his article, Rose reported that the officer
    said that inside the CIA, "there was hardly any argument about the
    value of coercive methods" (Vanity Fair, Dec. 16, 2008)
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Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

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