Yesterday, the former vice president of the United States and one of the architects of the American torture program explained why he was unconcerned about the torture of innocent prisoners
CHUCK TODD: Let me go to Gul Rahman. He was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water, froze to death in C.I.A. custody. And it turned out it was a case of mistaken identity.
DICK CHENEY: --right. But the problem I had is with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield. [...] I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.
CHUCK TODD: 25% of the detainees though, 25% turned out to be innocent. They were released.
DICK CHENEY: Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are-- [...]
CHUCK TODD: Is that too high? You're okay with that margin for error?
DICK CHENEY: I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.
A reminder: some of the most egregious torture cases took place during preparations for the Iraq War
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document.
"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he continued.
"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."
Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.
As for the innocent persons who found themselves in the CIA's torture programs, the effects were devastating
It's difficult to understand how anyone could paint Dick Cheney as anything but a war criminal. Smugly advocating for torture of potential innocents; undertaking a torture program in major part to find "evidence" of an al Qaeda-Iraq link that did not exist—there are no possible legitimizing factors here.