Feature

Did the CIA vindicate Dick Cheney?

The CIA releases two reports Cheney has said would prove that “enhanced interrogation” works

For months now, Dick Cheney has sought vindication from two CIA documents, said Spencer Ackerman in The Washington Independent, that he said would “refute critics of the Bush administration’s torture program.” Well, now the CIA has released the 2004 and 2005 reports, and “strikingly, they provide little evidence for Cheney’s claims” that “enhanced interrogation” provided valuable information. Actually, they sometimes “suggest the opposite.”

With the amount of information redacted, I’d say the verdict for Cheney is: “Inconclusive,” said Allahpundit in Hot Air. The two reports show that intelligence from Al Qaida detainee interrogations “helped stop terror attacks,” but they don’t say if “any enhanced techniques were used” in those interrogations.

So instead of Cheney’s “smoking gun,” we get “fog,” said Bobby Ghosh in Time, and there’s enough fog that “both defenders and critics of the CIA’s techniques can claim to have been vindicated.” Cheney can, and does, point to the parts which say that “the three high-value detainees who endured the harshest interrogation did yield a trove of information.”

That misses the point, said Patrick Appel in The Atlantic. “No one denies torture produces information,” even loads of information. Unfortunately, most of it is bad intel, and “the same or better information can be collected through other techniques.” There are parts in these two CIA PR pieces that surely make “Cheney smile,” but nothing that proves him right.

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