Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The statement made by Dick Cheney in response to the release of documents about the torture of detainees and Holder’s announcement of a “preliminary review” of detainee abuse during the Bush administration is a case study in dishonesty, depravity and how to make irony meters explode from thousands of miles away. The dishonesty begins with the very first sentence:

The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda.


Notice how carefully he words that sentence. The individuals subjected to torture (I refuse to use that ridiculous euphemism) gave us good intelligence, he says; what he does not say, because he can’t support it, is that it was the torture that made them do so. In fact, we know from the testimony of two men who were actually involved in those interrogations — Ali Soufan and Matthew Alexander — that the useful intelligence came through normal interrogation techniques and that the decision to torture them only led to false confessions and bad information that sent agents on wild goose chases.

The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.

Yes, Dick Cheney just accused the Obama DOJ of being politicized in regard to torture. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. First of all, it shouldn’t be Obama’s decision at all. If Eric Holder, as the highest law enforcement official in the nation, thinks that the law was broken, he has an obligation to investigate and prosecute those who broke the law. If the president were to interfere in that and prevent such investigations, that would be politicizing the DOJ.

Cheney knows that, of course, because he was up to his eyeballs in doing exactly that. Let’s remember a few things about the Bush administration and the DOJ. Like the fact that their own inspector general determined that the White House had repeatedly intervened to pressure the DOJ to bring political prosecutions to help the party politically, like the firing of David Iglesias in New Mexico for refusing to prosecute ACORN.

Like the fact that the person they put in charge of hiring career attorneys in the DOJ was found guilty by their own inspector general of violating federal law and hiring on the basis of political beliefs rather than professional competence, which resulted in the hiring of more than 150 graduates of Pat Robertson’s law school (which ranks at the bottom of all law schools in the nation).

Like the fact that, again, their own inspector general concluded that the Bush White House handpicked officials at the Office of Legal Counsel to write the torture memos, bypassing protocols in order to make sure they’d get the legal advice justifying torture that they sought.

Like the fact that they sent Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to the hospital to try to get an extremely ill Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on a spying program that was so blatantly unconstitutional that even he and about a dozen other top officials at the DOJ — men who had signed off on all sorts of constitutionally dubious programs already — could not support them.

The #2 (or perhaps #1) man in that administration just accused the Obama administration of politicizing the Department of Justice. And reason wept.