Outgoing VP says Guantanamo prison should stay open until end of terror war, but has no idea when that might be.
By David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
December 15 2008
Monday, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney made a startling statement on a nation-wide, televised broadcast.
When asked by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl whether he approved of interrogation tactics used against a so-called “high value prisoner” at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, Mr. Cheney, in a break from his history of being press-shy, admitted to giving official sanctioning of torture.
Video is from ABC’s World News, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.
“I supported it,” he said regarding the practice known as “water-boarding,” a form of simulated drowning. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted of war crimes in US courts for water-boarding, a practice which the outgoing Bush administration attempted to enshrine in policy.
“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do,” Cheney said. “And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
He added: “It’s been a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves.”
ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. “I don’t,” he said.
The prisoner in question, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the Bush administration alleges to have planned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is one of Guantanamo’s “high value targets” thus far charged with war crimes.
Former military interrogator Travis Hall disagrees with Cheney’s position.
“Proponents of Guantanamo underestimate what a powerful a propaganda tool Guantanamo has become for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, despite several Department of Defense studies documenting the propaganda value of detention centers,” he said in a column for Opposing Views.
“For example, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has monitored numerous Al Qaeda references to Guantanamo in its recruitment propaganda materials,” continued Hall. “Improvements to Guantanamo’s administration of judicial mechanisms will not make its way into Al Qaeda propaganda. Nothing short of closing Guantanamo will remove this arrow from its quiver.”
President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison and pull US forces out of Iraq. Cheney, however, has a different timeline for when Guantanamo Bay prison may be “responsibly” retired.
“Well, I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror,” he told ABC.
Problematic to his assertion: Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” is undefinable and unending by it’s very nature, and Cheney seems to recognize this as fact.
Asked when his administration’s terror war will end, he jostled, “Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that.”