August 25th, 2009
07:52 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Was Cheney right about tough interrogation tactics?

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Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Tonight we’re digging deeper on the CIA interrogation story.

Yesterday, the government released hundreds of documents detailing harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA during the Bush administration–and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he was launching a new review of those controversial techniques to determine if the CIA broke the law.

That decision has sparked a war of words—and former Vice President Dick Cheney has entered the fray. He says the newly released documents prove his long-held claim that tough interrogation techniques—including mock executions, banned by the U.N. Convention Against Torture–prevented terrorist attacks and yielded crucial information about al Qaeda.

But do the documents made public yesterday really prove his point? Did those tough tactics actually deliver crucial information that kept Americans safe? Tom Foreman is on the case, Keeping Them Honest. Political contributors Paul Begala, Democratic strategist, and Mary Matalin, who served as an adviser to Cheney when he was vice president, will also weigh in.

We’ll also have the latest in the Michael Jackson death investigation. For weeks now, the focus has been on Dr. Murray, but now another doctor—Jackson’s longtime dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein—may soon be getting even more attention from investigators. Randi Kaye explains why tonight.

The pop singer Chris Brown, who was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, the singer Rihanna, was sentenced today and ordered to stay away from his victim. Many think he got off easy. His story has focused attention on an ugly reality. Tonight we’ll take a closer look at domestic violence in the African American community.

We’ll also report from New Orleans, four years after the storm that devastated the city. We have an update on a violent death in the chaotic days after Katrina–a police shooting that left a mentally disabled man dead. The police officers maintained it was self-defense. But tonight there are new and disturbing developments in the case.

See you at 10 p.m. eastern!

Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Our Goverment or any of its employees doing something Illegal??????
    C.I.A. breaking the law??? you must be joking(Yes I'm being sarcastic)
    How many have Swiss or offshore bank accounts & have evaded paying taxes for years? Thats what I want to know.

    August 26, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  2. Dean D. Ellis Lake Worth, Florida

    Folks, forget about the torture if it makes you feel better. Let’s just talk about the murders and those who have been permanently disabled and disfigured. Persons captured by the United States have been tortured in vile and vicious manner until they died.
    Once upon a time I was mandated to carry a card that read the following on the reverse side: "Identification for purposes of the Geneva Convention relative to treatment of prisoners of war of August 12 1948.” I was required to attend yearly training pertaining to this international law.
    When you decide to declare war against somebody or something, the people that you capture are prisoners of war. When you declare a “War on Terrorism”, your enemy is the terrorists. The enemy has been captured. Is there any logical argument against that point? No. Perhaps those requirements that pertain to enlisted soldiers do not pertain to George Bush, the Commander In Chief? That is why his administration called them insurgents rather than terrorists.
    So far only enlisted soldiers have been prosecuted during this “War on Terror”. Yes folks the lower ranks have been prosecuted and they have done time. The standards that apply to the Private must also apply to the uppermost levels of command.
    The United States Army is run by civilians by law. Some of those civilians are the Secretary of the Army, Secretary of Defense, and the commander in Chief. Civilians control all the branches of the armed services, all government agencies, and civilians declare the wars and make the laws. If enlisted soldiers have been prosecuted why are civilians and commissioned officers not held accountable? You do not follow orders, you follow lawful orders.
    The English used the same tactics against their terrorists- the colonists and a war erupted

    August 26, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  3. Jay

    Cheney did what he thought (and feels deeply) was correct. He was VOTED in office to make these decisions and rightfully so. If my life is possibly on the line and some terrorist we caught-hell with the Geneva Convention– may have answers let him sqeeal and suffer for his actions.

    August 26, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  4. Teresa, OH

    @Mike, Syracuse: re: "you don’t win a war following the Marquis of Queensbury’s rules." Does anyone really WIN in a war?

    On another note: mental abuse is TORTURE. Emotional, psychological, terrorizing w/ threats IS TORTURE. Ask anyone who has been through it. Most of them will say: I would rather be physically tortured than mentally.

    But, as you pointed out: wars are won this way. Does the end justify the means? who's to say? the govt ? : )

    @ rbam: on getting a psychic for Hassani Cambell, no psychic is needed, but if you insist.. .. the answer lies with the last person who admitted to seeing Hassani. "for now we see through a glass, darkly; "

    August 26, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  5. Linda B., Ga.

    Why is it that we didn't hear from Cheney, until after he was no longer the VP? It's because all the "crap" that he pulled while and even before he was VP is coming to light and he is now "tap dancing" as fast as he can. Maybe our federal investigators will probe even more and find out about ALL the profits that Cheney made, during the war in Iraq.....remembering that he is big in Halliburton.....

    I think Cheney should've and needs to keep his trap shut.....even better maybe he should be serving time alongside Madoff....

    August 26, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  6. Melissa

    It doesn't matter if he was or not. The US is not a bunch of barbarians and the end does NOT justify the means.

    August 26, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  7. Roger

    I retired from the US Army after 22 years and have seen a lot during this time. Yes, it may upset those that we use scare tactics to get information. However, it has proven to work and has saved lives in this country as well as overseas.

    If people continue to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the fact there are people who want nothing better than to eliminate us as a culture, keep going for at this rate we will all be dead.

    Oh, I do agree we should treat these terrorist as they treat or prisoner – if you notice, there are none as they behead our men on video and show the pictures to the world.

    During the terrorist attack in Mecca, the Saudis captured the terrorist, torture them (burned out eyes and cut out their tongues) and then not only executed them but executed their families to prevent any future issues. You say a threat is inhumane? The Saudis understand how to deal with the problem, we need to wake up and let the people who are assigned to protect us do their job.

    August 26, 2009 at 5:53 am |

    oh my god cheney won't shut up we hate this liar so much he didn't give a damn what the public was feeling he said "so" and did what the hell he wanted the teapartes and rant screaming old white people in these town hall meeting are nobody but racists and bigots who are only out there turning red because president OBAMA is a black who they hate and that is why the birthers are so freaking out of their minds . damn he won for four years they want their country back i am an born american when did it because just their country wow !BUSH and CHENEY rob the hell out of it got thousand kill for nothing and this fool and his dumd as nail daughter liza are out there putting our president down they should be tied for treason. CHENEY HE HAS HAD HIS 8 YEARS OF LYING TO THE PUBLIC I SAY GO GET HIM AND PUT HIM UNDER THE JAIL MAYBE IN THE SAME AS THE PRISON HE HAD WATERBOARDED.

    August 26, 2009 at 5:09 am |
  9. Jack L. Crain

    Cheney was so wrong and the report proves it. There is no good evidence that the torture provided any useful information. Even if it had, even if torture supplied massive amounts of information that led to the killing of enemies that were planning attacks, it would still not be justified. Cheney is a sociopath. Every time he opens his mouth he proves it again.

    August 26, 2009 at 4:25 am |
  10. JDylan

    It's a nice heart warming thing to say "torture is bad," but that doesn't change reality; there are times when the end justifies the means. This is not torture for the sake of torture, it is not the middle ages or the church saying that they must repent, it is for the sake of survival. I can best say it this way; if a man is in front of me with knowledge of people who are conspiring to kill my daughter, I will do anything and everything to find out all that he knows, no matter what people thought of me. I doubt anyone would do differently. Not only should these things not be shocking but, expected. I would expect no better treatment if the tables were turned; actually it is well known that a captured US soldier will not only be tortured but, have their head cut off. The fact that the CIA was doing everything available to keep their people, their family, safe gives me nothing but relief.

    August 26, 2009 at 2:10 am |
  11. nea

    All i can say about Dick Cheney is if he broke the law he should be punish for it and anyone else. Because right now if Presient Obama broke the law they will quickly i mean like last week thrown him under the jail. People should know by now that whats done in the dark will come to the light sooner or later!

    August 26, 2009 at 1:41 am |
  12. J.

    It is easy for us to sit in the comforts of our freedoms and special priviledges that the United States holds for all of us and make judgement on issues of terrorism and torture. No one will come to agreement on the torture issues. Until you walk in those shoes of whom have been there, you cannot talk about something without first hand experience. In other words if you ask the victims or family of victims of terrorists how they feel it would be different than someone of the Democratic party on a witch hunt for a what they term as "justification" for these interrogation proceedures whether humane or inhumane. How about our homeland terrorism. That of gang murders. There is no difference. We want justice on those that terrorize others whether at home or afar. But what all this boils down to is a driven division between parties and who is right and who is wrong and who will win in the end. But what no one seems to grasp, that in an effort to forgo security measures and release of information so Democrats can "get their man", we are all making America and Americans look like a bunch of irresponsible, petty, whining bunch of nincompoops who are so busy fighting our own within we look weak and insecure and allow others to continue to want to tear down the greatest and FREE-est nation in the world. When tragidy strikes, in the most horrid moments it isn't about divided people, democrates to one side and republicans to the other, those that want to hurt others don't give a rats ass. So people like Obama's organization and his cronnies like Paul Begalla, James Carvell, Mr. Martin, Keith Olgermann, Chris Matthews and Rachell Madcow who continually cut down and synical condescention of Americas past administration and present administration and political leaders really really really makes us look like a bunch of cry baby fools. People need to get back to the basics of social eticasy, manners and grow the hell up because those that cry fowl don't understand the importance of security and protection and don't get it until it stands on their door step and knocks on their personal door. We are America first and foremost. We are obligated to protect within first then babysit others who need help second.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:41 am |
  13. Lisa Johnston WV

    Our country has always done a great job of keeping us free & safe, there has been more things done in the past that would be considered "torture", but those news events were not as accessible as they are today. Many other countries have laws that govern there own with ways we would call torture, so be happy that you can keep your fingers, head, & most of the time your life, because in the USA you go to prison with a hot meal. Why not put yourself in Cheney's shoes, you have the lives of a country full of people to protect, no pressure. If he did not do things to prevent it you would hang him as well as you hang him for trying. If you are qualified for the position & will do a better job, then get in there & do it!!!

    August 26, 2009 at 1:38 am |
  14. LDiaz

    So why is DICK Cheney all over the news now??? Where the heck was he when he was VP? No one ever seen or heard from him before when he was in office (which was a good thing). Now he's all over the news. He needs to crawl back into his cave and stay there. He is an evil man! So why wasn't he out and about when 911 happend? Instead, he was no where to be seen...collecting his check(s) on his "investments" from the war he help start. Nice job DICK!

    August 26, 2009 at 1:34 am |
  15. James

    The term torture is being thrown around very loosely in my opinion. How about a definition so everyone has a frame of reference. Maybe a world definition and an American definition to see if there are differences. I kindof think what goes on in the rest of the world relative to treatment of individuals for a varity of purposes would open eyes in this country about torture. The timing of the current investigation is dumb regardless of the motivation because regardless of the motivation it will only serve to line up both sides of the argument. The investigation is equally dumb for the same reason. Maybe five years or so from now-maybe.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:30 am |
  16. Gary Heusel

    Cheney and many others in the Bush administration were not abiding by what the U.S. constitution or historical practice would dictate. It was totally amazing to me that a majority of the public allowed it to happen for a second term after what we experienced during their first term. With people like them governing our country many other so called radicals would think they had cause to do things like 911. Although there is no just cause for what happened at 911 we might ask what would have happened if a plane with Christian symbols had flown into a major business center in another country. Would they have automatically assumed that the U.S. was behind the destruction and that they could declare war, humiliate the entire population of our country and torture every Christian they could find? Most of the world thinks we, the U.S., over reacted. I agree.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  17. Toronto, Ontario

    Cheney is an opportunist. He is just waiting for some other terrorist attack, no matter how small, then he will pop up from his hole-in-the-wall and say "told you so". He is going to continue doing this every 2 or 3 months. It has nothing to do with keeping the country safe. He pulled all the puupet strings for 8 years, misses the fun of that, now is trying to do it with American people.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  18. pat sims

    Why don't u ask the families of the 911 victims. These innocent loved ones were burned to death. When things like this happens to someone you love u may feel totally different.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:22 am |
  19. Chad

    While Abu Grave shows that there are exceptions, I find it hard to believe that American soldiers widespreadly engaged in sadistic torture without the belief that they could obtain valuable information. In such cases where investigators can determine that some did, be they soldiers or CIA agents, those perpetrators and their immediate superiors should be charged with criminal conduct. Unless the constitution is read to prevent the executive branch from approving such techniques, then VP Cheney will have to be judged only at the Pearly Gates...

    August 26, 2009 at 1:21 am |
  20. james howard

    These people will kill our friends and family. They killed 3000 innocent people I could care less if they were tortured. If that's what saved american lives so be it. I far as I'm concerned they can do it again I don't care

    August 26, 2009 at 1:19 am |
  21. Steve

    Dick Cheney, has led the country down a slippery path during his time in the White House. Ignoring the reports of imminent threats of terrorism to our country, and force feeding the public a brutal unnecessary occupation. Spending the lives of our soldiers like credit.

    August 26, 2009 at 1:18 am |
  22. jennifer

    Dick Cheney (and John McCain) are toxic to our present president. All either one of them do is undermine whatever President Obama opines. If what they felt worked, the US wouldn't be in the shape it was when President Obama took office. Both of them need to stop undermining the elected official and be "E pluribus Unum" ("Many uniting into One").

    August 26, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  23. Koral Mae from Shelton, WA

    Wow. The whole idea of the "war on terror" is to kill more terrorists than we create. Torture CREATES future terrorists, and our military is forced to bear the retaliation of the crimes our elected officials perpetrate. Holding people accountable for torture CRIMES is not outlandish, and it's not a distraction from health care reform. C'mom, we"re Americans...we can handle more than one news story (debate) at a time.

    To all of those who think we need to let this go...How do you plan on explaining the significance of the Nuremberg trials to your children?

    August 26, 2009 at 12:46 am |
  24. ann in kensington

    The more Dick Cheney speaks out, the more desperate he sounds..thus the more guilty he appears!

    EVERYONE should just back off with the comments and allow the facts to come out as the records are examined.

    I believe that if we think it's okay for the United States to use torture (no matter what the circumstances) then we are leaving US captured soldiers and personsonnel more open to having torture used on them. As much as I'm disgused by 9/11 and terrorist attacks..sinking to the lowest level of behavior eventually drags down a whole society. More and more indignities used on fellow man eventually makes the society more tolerant to such behavior (this is a proven fact)....and the lower we sink the harder it becomes to climb back to a level of dignity and empathy towards mankind in general

    Saying this...I am disgusted by Mr. Cheney's behavior and attitude.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:36 am |
  25. Penny Kyte

    Anderson Im going to try to be nice but tell me was the Bush years right about anything? It seems to me they left us in a mess. It will take years to get out of this mess!!! As you can tell I was no fan of Bush he messed this country up so bad in so many ways!! Go back in time when Bush took over we had a surplus, when he left we are in war, recession, we have lost respect of countries that I never thaught we would!! Im not saying Obama is better I dont know yet money wise Im starting to wonder but I will give anyone a chance. Thanks for reading!

    August 26, 2009 at 12:29 am |
  26. Kathleen Hovey

    I'm confused. How can we as Americans forget the fear, shock and uncertainty we experienced following the attack on our country on September 11, 2001? How long did it take for many of us to fly again? Remember the financial beating the airline industry took? We wanted the perpetrators found and punished. We wanted our land protected at all costs. These terrorists are plotting against us to this day. They cannot be granted the protection of the Geneva convention because they are unlike any enemy we have ever experienced! They hate us...hate us! And will do anything in their power to destroy America, ruin our cities, destroy our infrastructures and financial stability. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were trying to keep America safe by all means possible and yes that included torture. Get real people. Now that the menace has passed and we feel somewhat safe again, we are second guessing ourselves all over the place. Will it take a second attack to snap us to attention again? Anderson, you sounded dangerously biased when you were interviewing Mary Matlin tonight regarding your perception that Mr. Cheney is backing off of his statement that enhanced interrogation resulted in saving American lives. I agree with Annie Kate's statement that "desperate times sometimes require desperate measures". America is not safe....not by a long shot..

    As an aside, DO NOT allow Gitmo to be closed and for all the criticism the world has to give....it can take these worst of the worst. Do Not allow these terrorists on our soil just to give Americans jobs. In our prisons, we have American prisoners who feel their country has given them a raw deal. Expose them to these terrorists and create more. Maybe some will even be released, remain under the power of their terrorist mentors and help to create new cells within our land. This is beyond frightening.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  27. Gabi Herkert

    Was Cheney right? Is breaking the law okay? Is torturing okay? Is threatening to rape someone's family what we do? Do we turn a blind eye to anyone who does that to one of us? Don't we expect the American justice system to hold such criminals accountable and isn't that result what keeps us safe in our own beds?

    Sadaam. Milosovic. And Cheney. They all thought that morality and the rule of law applied to everyone but them. But we know better.

    August 26, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  28. alex lyrics

    I'm sorry but Dick Cheney just looks like the devil, and h acts like the devil also.
    Gay aughter or not he is just plain evil.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  29. Priscilla

    Where is the integrity of the American people? Where is our backbone? We complain that we were promised change yet scream in protest at what change represents. Perfect case in point:: Obama tries to institute health care reform and people shout, "Government takeover! Death panels! Socialism!" And, like lemmings, the American public is easily swayed.

    Of course going after what was actually done during the Bush administration is tricky ground. It opens up the door to divisive debates. But when has the pursuit of justice ever been easy? Or convenient? Or even politically safe, for that matter? When was the last time that any top members of an executive administration were actually held responsible for their actions while in office? Never, in my memory. And I'm 54 years old.

    As Dick Armey, Republican majority leader under the Bush administration, admitted that Dick Cheney lied to him about the existence of weapons of mass destruction, thus leading him to use his influence to initiate a pre-emptive war on Iraq. If Cheney will lie to leaders in Congress in order to promote his own agenda, why would anyone believe he would suddenly be honest in justifying other actions?

    Much of what was done in supposed defense of America while Bush was in office was morally wrong, if not illegal. And the only way to at least take a step toward making sure we, the public, aren't so easily and thoroughly lied to again is by making certain that officials–from the top down–are held accountable. Justice for all is supposed to be one of the cornerstones of our country. It ain't easy. It ain't politically wise. But it's the kind of change that only a very courageous president would ever hope to achieve.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  30. ill susan

    great B Franklin quote. thanks!

    Remember. Cheney came from the same state that tortured a kid for being gay – and killed him. Until his daughter came out, I wouldnt be surprised if he didnt see their actions as okay – short of death. On the other hand, it would be wrong to stereotype Wyomingans as intolerant fools. (Although I can speak from experience, that was how they treated their Native Americans – the Shoshones.)

    August 25, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  31. Curtis

    It never ceases to amaze me how Americans seem to the be only ones in the world who want to put rules and restrictions on waging war. Did we not learn anything from Pres Johnson's catastrophic mismanagement of the Viet Nam War? How many "Rules of Engagement" did he agree to at the demand of the North Viet Namese which put our troops in mortal danger? Why do we insist on lily-livered, everyone play nice now, "interrogations"? First we say we will mirandize them. Next after promising he would not prosecute any of the CIA officers, Obama now releases the reigns on Holder. He is going to create a castrated CIA, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Carter Administration; a CIA so castrated and fearful of doing anything that our next clue about terrorist action will be a mushroom cloud on the horizon.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  32. Sara Ray, Hawaii

    Im so over Cheney. Apparently he feels like he constantly needs to be on the defensive lately...must be a good reason for that.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  33. Angel

    Really? (SNL style empahsis) Obama justice now to investigate the CIA using ACLU metrics? What are they smoking? This is Chicago intellegencia run amuck. This is not a Harvard debate. The CIA is already on a knife's edge not to fall into Slumdog Millionaire style 3rd world torture tactics yet needing to break those whose sworn objective it is to break the US.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  34. Nathanael

    It was interesting to have Cheney's old advisor come on and say that "torture has a legal definition." Problem- who's legal definition are we going with? Most people might assume that we are all talking about the UN convention on torture. She was most likely referring to the Bybee/Yoo memo (a particular interpretation of the UN convention on torture) which concludes by noting that "the statute, taken as a whole, makes plain that it prohibits only extreme acts.” In short, the Bush-era "legal definition" of torture is extremely wide and covers a multitude of sins, so to speak. We all need to make sure we know what definitions people are working with.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  35. Judy

    We didn't see much of Cheney while he was a VP. Now we see him all the time. It appears that CHeney, Pallin and other conservatives are afraid of Obama and are trying to discredit him. THey really want to get back in power so Cheney has to defend the tactics used and keep every in fear mode. THe drastic interregation tactics used probably weren't needed–whatever happened to the so called "truth serum"???? Wouldn't that have worked too. We need health care not scare tactics so the conservatives can get back in office.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  36. Jimmy Knighten

    The twisted mind of Dick Cheney thinks enhanced interrogation was appropriate and that it worked. His entire tenure as Vice-President was a form of torture for the entire country he served. Torture is inhumane and we as a World power should know better. America is far from being a great country as long as we elect incompetent leaders.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  37. Renard

    Most if not all Republicans have always been willing to look the other way when any allegation of criminal wrong doing by the Bush Administration has surfaced.

    It is time for us to finally learn the truth about the Torture Program and if it is found that Bush or Cheney violated US Law or the Constitution of the United States that they both swore and oath to protect and defend they need to be prosecuted.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  38. Anthony Piazza

    I'm not a Cheney fan but seriously..would we have questioned all this on 9/12/2001?? I doubt it!

    August 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  39. David Ely

    Why won't someone ask Cheney or his supporters the question that hasn't been asked: if the alleged torture of these suspects and Al Qaeda members did indeed reveal information that prevented future terrorist attacks, does Cheney believe use of such torture should be expanded and employed on American citizens when they are suspected of heinous crimes? Why not? Where does torture stop? Or should we just torture foreigners we don't like? How does this end justify such means? Cheney, stop stomping on our Constitution.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  40. stuart

    i think Chaney needs to shut up and realize that hes not vp anymore. Hes trying to cover up the fact that he did these things and they were not as effective as he says. And no matter how effective they were they r torture. its easy for people to say that u can torture criminals but almost everyone in america dont know what it is like. it makes us americans no better than those terrorists.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  41. Larry G

    It's so obvious that the Bush administration streched and in some cases broke the rules of interogation. My goodness, if Clinton can be impeached for lying about an affair, certainly Bush and Cheney should be investigated and possibly charged with misleading the American public and using tactics used in some cases by the terrorists themselves.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  42. Randy Columbus, OH

    It is my understanding that the Geneva accords that define torture and their prosecution state clearly that getting results from such activities is not a defense. Mr. Cheney's argument that the efforts resulted in successful information are evidence that he should be prosecuted as a war criminal and nothing more.

    August 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  43. Marian Midlothina, VA

    Let's spend our time discussing healthcare issues. Many comments were made including Pres Obabma's great uncle's that we need better communication of what the health care bill will and will not do. You've been doing a good job "keeping them honest" about what is really in the bill and what is not. Would like to see more of that. It's disheartening to see so many people at the town halls getting upset over things like death panel that aren't even in the bill,

    August 25, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
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