Sunday, May 31, 2009

Levin: Cheney's wrong on torture debate

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been highly critical as of late of Barack Obama's foreign policy, namely the opinions he (Obama) expressed on torture during the Bush administration. Cheney asserts that torture has worked, and that unreleased memos detail how we thwarted terrorist plots through such extreme interrogations.

There is, however, a hitch in the former vice president's assertions. Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, has called out Cheney's bluff, stating that his comments are blatant lies.
Mr. Cheney claimed last week that President Obama’s decisions have made us less secure and that abusive interrogation techniques worked. Mr. Cheney has said that the use of abusive techniques “prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent lives.” Mr. Cheney’s claims are directly contrary to the judgment of our FBI Director, Robert Mueller, that no attacks on America were disrupted due to intelligence obtained through the use of those techniques.

Mr. Cheney has also claimed that the release of classified documents would prove his view that the techniques worked. But those classified documents say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques. I hope that the documents are declassified so that people can judge for themselves what is fact and what is fiction.
Sen. Levin also quoted General David Petraeus's views on torture:
"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," he said. "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 make someone ‘talk;’ however, what the individual says may be of questionable value."
Either Cheney or both Levin and Petraeus are misleading us. For my money, I'll trust the words from the distinguished senator from Michigan and the eloquent words from the respected general over the disgraced words from the former vice president.

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