On Saturday, I wrote about a new and important McClatchy story that revisited remarks Cheney made to the Rocky Mountain News in 2004, confirming then that they
tortured extracted false confessions information from Guantanamo detainees about Al Qaeda/Iraq ties.
The Rocky Mountain News asked Cheney in a Jan. 9, 2004, interview if he stood by his claims that Saddam's regime had maintained a "relationship" with al Qaida, raising the danger that Iraq might give the group chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to attack the U.S.
"Absolutely. Absolutely," Cheney replied....
"The (al Qaida-Iraq) links go back," he said. "We know for example from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it."
Today, TPMMuckraker pulls out another nugget from the story, the remarks from "a top Guantanamo investigator, retired Army Lt. Col. Brittain Mallow," who told McClatchy's Jonathon Landay:
"I'm aware of the fact that in late 2002, early 2003, that (the alleged al Qaida-Iraq link) was an interest on the intelligence side.... That was something they were tasked to look at."
He said he was unaware of the origins of the directive, but a former senior U.S. intelligence official has told McClatchy that Cheney's and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's offices were demanding that information in 2002 and 2003. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, requested anonymity.
The story actually made it onto a Sunday show, with Stephanopolous asking torture apologist and Cheney-defender-in-chief Liz Cheney about it. Think Progress caught her non-denial denial:
STEPHANOPOLOUS: You’ve explained one part of it, I just want to ask you to explain another part of it. The report though that the vice president’s office did ask specifically to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented to this detainee, do you deny that?
CHENEY: I think that it’s important for us to have all the facts out. And and, the first and most important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program, it saved American lives. Now, the way this policy worked internally was once the policy was determined and decided, the CIA, you know, made the judgments about how each individual detainee would be treated. And the Vice President would not substitute his own judgment for the professional judgment of the CIA.
"Once the policy was determined and decided," but by whom? That's the whole crux of this story, and it's looking likelier and likelier that Cheney was the real decider. Think Progress adds:
The truth is that when the CIA didn’t give Cheney the info he wanted about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, he marginalized the agency:
In the initial stages of the war on terror, Tenet’s CIA was rising to prominence as the lead agency in the Afghanistan war. But when Tenet insisted in his personal meetings with the president that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld initiated a secret program to re-examine the evidence and marginalize the agency and Tenet. Through interviews with DoD staffers who sifted through mountains of raw intelligence, FRONTLINE details how questionable intelligence was "stovepiped" to the vice president and presented to the public.
New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, who wrote a book about "the dark side" of the war on terror, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this week about how after 9/11 Cheney "was dissatisfied with the kind of information that had been given to them from the CIA," so he requested raw intelligence reports and "took away the filter that the CIA had had."
The evidence is piling up, despite the general lack of interest in investigation from the traditional media (with McClatchy's Landay being the standout exception) or apparently from anybody else. Somebody might after all have something nasty and misogynistic to say about Pelosi, and that's far more fun to talk about.
Update: Here's remarkable candor from FOX Fox correspondent, Jonathan Hunt, who is honest about the distraction tactic:
"Instead of this debate being about national security, what is and isn’t torture, what the Bush administration should and shouldn’t have allowed and whether anybody in that administration should now be prosecuted, the Republicans are now able to frame this debate as to whether Nancy Pelosi is fit to continue as Speaker. So they are not about to let their foot off the gas in any way, shape, or form."