If Torture Stopped In 2004, How Is Obama Endangering Americans By Banning It?

There’s another part of Lawrence Wilkerson’s widely circulated blog post from yesterday that hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.

Wilkerson, the former US Army colonel who was Colin Powell’s chief of staff at the State Department, wrote:

My investigations have revealed to me–vividly and clearly–that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering “the Cheney methods of interrogation”, simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama’s having shut down the “Cheney interrogation methods” will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

When we spoke to Wilkerson yesterday, he confirmed this point, and went further. He said he was now being told that the beginning of the end for the torture program may even have occurred far earlier. Wilkerson said he believes that a “chain reaction” was set off when Alberto Mora, the Navy general counsel who was investigating detainee abuse, first told William Haynes, the Pentagon’s general counsel, that the DOD had, in Mora’s view, illegally authorized torture. That occurred in December 2002 — though of course we know that torture continued into at least 2003 and was practiced on detainees captured during the invasion of Iraq, both at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

What’s the significance of all this? If, as Wilkerson says — and we know of no evidence that refutes him — the Bush administration didn’t torture during its second term, Dick Cheney’s alarmist claim that President Obama is putting Americans in danger by refusing to torture becomes even more nonsensical. After all, the Bush administration, it appears, didn’t torture for essentially its latter half. Was it, too, putting Americans in danger during that time — even though there were no successful attacks on the American mainland in that period?

Not that we necessarily needed further proof of Dick Cheney’s dishonesty and moral bankruptcy. But this seems like a point that’s worth keeping in mind when the former veep gives his next well-publicized interview.

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