Dick Cheney had claimed that some classified CIA documents supported his contention that torture provided information which prevented a terrorist attack, contradicting a report from the CIA’s inspector general. A few days ago Senator Carl Levin reviewed the documents and stated that Cheney’s claims about the classified documents were untrue. Greg Sargent has reviewed an interview Cheney gave with Fox last night, finding that Cheney has backed away from his claims:
There’s a very revealing moment buried in an interview that Dick Cheney gave to Fox News last night that really gives away his game plan on torture.
Specifically: Cheney seemed to edge away from the claim that the documents he’s asking the CIA to declassify will prove unequivocally that torture worked.
The key moment came when his interviewer said: “You want some documents declassified having to do with waterboarding.” Cheney replied:
“Yes, but the way I would describe them is they have to do with the detainee program, the interrogation program. It’s not just waterboarding. It’s the interrogation program that we used for high-value detainees. There were two reports done that summarize what we learned from that program, and I think they provide a balanced view.”
Bear with me here, because this is crucial. Cheney is carefully saying that the documents summarize what we learned from the overall interrogation program. Torture, of course, was only a component of that program. So he’s clearly saying that the docs summarize what was learned from a program that included non-torture techniques, too.
Here’s why this is important. It dovetails precisely with what Senator Carl Levin, who has also seen these docs, says about them. Levin claims the docs don’t do anything to “connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques.”
My bet is Cheney is planning to cite the valuable intel in the docs and say that the program — of which torture was only a part — was responsible for producing it. He’ll fudge the question of whether the torture itself was actually responsible for generating that information. Cheney is as experienced as any Washington hand at using precise language to obfsucate, and this is the game plan.