Liz Cheney Won’t Deny Her Father Suggested Questions On Iraq-Qaeda Ties

May 17, 2009 12:59 p.m.

In an appearance on ABC’s This Week today, Liz Cheney employed a classic non-denial denial when asked about a report her father’s office pressured interrogators to use torture to find evidence of Iraq-Qaeda links.

George Stephanopolous asked Liz Cheney about a Daily Beast piece reporting that the vice president’s office in 2003 suggested interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Asked specifically by Stephanopolous if she would deny “that the vice president’s office did ask specifically to have information about Iraq-al Qaeda connections presented to this detainee,” Cheney offered this muddled response:

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.

Here’s the video of the exchange, (h/t ThinkProgress):

Cheney also cited a report yesterday from the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, in which “senior intelligence officials” denied waterboarding was used on Abu Zubaida and Khalid Sheik Mohammed when they were asked about possible ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

Cheney said: “You saw the CIA come out yesterday and say, absolutely, unequivocally, waterboarding was not used to establish this kind of a link.”

In fact, the intel officials quoted by the Post were only addressing two detainees. Allegations that the Bush Administration ordered torture have not been limited to Mohammed and Zubaida.

It’s also worth noting that “waterboarding” should not be conflated with other “enhanced interrogation techniques.” That bit of linguistic acrobatics was used by an anonymous intelligence offiical in the Post‘s piece yesterday:

The two top priorities driving so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were information on the locations of al-Qaeda leadership and plots against the United States. … Questions were asked about Iraq, but the notion that waterboarding was used to extract from either an admission that Iraq and al-Qaeda had a relationship is false, period. [emphasis ours]

Surely the former vice president will have more to say on all of this at his speech at the American Enterprise Institute Thursday. Stay tuned.

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