One of a kind

One of a kind
Adelle Rhoda Roberts

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Men in Blue

A short note about cops.

I have known a lot of cops in my day, from beat cops on the street to Chiefs of Police. For the most part, the ones I have known have been excellent people, doing their best to keep order and sanity while doing a difficult job, regularly being confronted with the worst humanity has to offer.

I have also been beaten up by cops, while handcuffed no less. I have written about the incident before, which occurred in 1976. I'm convinced that there are a small percentage of cops who are attracted to the occupation because of the opportunity it gives a certain personality type to exercise brutality and sadism.

There has been a lot of talk about police brutality lately, about the police shootings of blacks, harassment of the poor and homeless and other nasty behavior. You can't watch the news without hearing a story of some cop pummeling some poor senior citizen at a traffic stop.

It is certainly true that cops patrol in a lot of really bad neighborhoods, but there are still far too many innocent people killed by them every year while reaching into their waistband for what turns out to be a nonexistent gun.

We know there are also racists in many police departments, as one quickly ascertains after visiting a police blog like CopOne or by reading various police tweets that have recently come to the fore.

Has there been a sudden rash of police brutality? I highly doubt it. I am sure that the rate of such behavior is remarkably steady. What we are witnessing is merely the integration of social media in our lives at a time when everybody has a video camera on their phone. Everything is immediately amplified in this age and we have perfect examples of social contagion distorting the fine and thankless job practiced by the majority. We are left with a crisis in credibility.

We have always had Eric Garners and Tamir Rice's only it was easier to accept the cops' version of things when nobody had it on tape. Now there is a whole internet cottage industry of CopWatch, Cops behaving badly and Photography is not a crime type sites, constantly documenting such abuses, and a admittedly refreshing libertarian streak among the millennials that refuse to accept bad behavior from their authorities and demand their civil rights.

Technology is forcing us to modify our behavior and that goes for the police as well. The videotaping, twittering and social media phenomenon is not going to go away and will hopefully usher in a new age of accountability on the part of both citizens and their protectors.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12-17-14

Warren sent me a quote from the late Susan Sontag's On photography the other day; "Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own." I think that Sontag's perception is spot on regarding photography and the same notion is doubly true with a blog.

When is it sharing and when is it an act of art or of genuine feeling, when is it truly necessary and when is it an act of pure voyeurism to give a blow by blow synopsis of one's life to the world, to interrupt life's flow in order to chronicle for a mixed group of friends, family and strangers? Is there a value in this somewhat ridiculous act of solipsistic narcissism?

I am so happy that I dialed this beast down this year and took the six months off, relieved myself from the duty to impart. Have substantially cut my output since then. But then again, like my mother before me, I am in Gladwell speak, a connector, with an innate compulsion to share and even teach at times. Nearing a million views, I have an actual relationship with many of the readers of this blog and I do get something back.

Still, how much is too much?

*
Sprung or Unsprung? © Robert Sommers 2014
I woke up from an eighteen hour day flying, waiting, delayed, on airport tarmacs and antiseptic gates, feeling completed unsprung. 

As I lay back in my own bed my brain was processing non sensical thoughts and errant non sequiturs, the inner gears freewheeling in space if not grinding against each other in an unmeshed cacophony.

I imagine like the morning hangover after a bad drug trip, I had to banish the chaotic thoughts and image stream and let them swim by on their strange asynchronous orbits. My line had spooled.

Fried and scrambled.

My life has been in a state of near total compression for months. Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Houston, Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Del Mar, Seattle again, now Baltimore and back. Surgeries, exhaustion. You can pretend that you are immortal and sometimes you do what you have to do but there are times when reality strikes and something has to give. I may be close.

I got my second eye surgery yesterday and my blood pressure was so high, for the first time in my life, that we almost called it off. Got a few shots of something and finally brought the bottom number down far enough to proceed. Hope I can get a handle on it.

*


My mother has asked to be removed from dialysis and from all prophylactic medicine except for pain meds. No antibiotics. She has a high creatinine level and is in total kidney failure but looks remarkably good and is very cogent. I wonder how long she will carry on but she is tired of fighting and I support her decision to end her life. She has had a great life and is tired of being in a constant state of pain and agony.

The brother and sisters and niece that were physically able to make the trip met at her bedside at the hospice this week. We all cried and said our piece. 

She asked for a glass of wine and I bought a bottle of pinot and we toasted her life. I recounted how much I admired her and thanked her for feeding and nurturing me, for bringing me into this world. Told her how much I loved her, what a special person she is, a person who has always transformed everyone in her path. She was equally loving and grateful as she explained how proud she was of us and how much she loved each of us.

In respect of my family I am not going to go into detail about much of our private time but will recount one precious moment; my mother called my sister Barbara and I close to her and held out her hands so that she could squeeze both of our hands at the same time.

"Bobby, Barbara, come closer."

We obeyed her command and bent near to hear one of what might prove to be her last messages to us. 

"Closer."

We leaned very close now, hovering over her head.

"I want to thank all of my children..."

We strained to catch her voice.

"...for not becoming republicans."

My sister and I laughed hysterically, having expected something quite different but she was totally serious.

*
I have never lost a parent before and for all I know she will hold on for eternity but the prognosis is weeks. I will tell you that my fear is that the glue that held my family together will fade away like an old post it note and that this is like the end of the fellowship of the ring, that Liz, Johnnie, Buzz, Barbara and I will never share the same room together. I hope that is not so.

My sister is an amazing person, the person who took financial responsibility for my mother and gave so much. We had a wonderful and bittersweet time together. Drove to Annapolis one morning, the quaint town that is the seat of United States Naval power, the day of the army navy game no less. Had a great breakfast and  time together that I think neither of us will ever forget. I love my whole remarkable family so much. We need to find brother Buzz a kidney.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Men and monsters

I am back from a rather difficult week visiting my mother in the hospice in Baltimore.

Thank you for your concern and best wishes for her. Will write more about my experiences there later. The week has been interesting
to say the least, sandwiched between heart issues and cataract surgeries, the second of which will be performed in a couple of hours. I am fried beyond belief.

I have been thinking a lot about the torture report that was recently released and the reaction to it from people in both this country and abroad. It is interesting how quickly humans can degenerate into monsters, us, them, everybody.

We have this amazing moral calculus that allows us to justify any behavior, no manner how brutal and vile. Perhaps as humans we have lost our moral moorings completely, that is if we ever had any to start with.

I was thinking about the report as I lay in bed  this morning, my brain still slightly fried and scrambles from the intense week. And I thought about two experiments that shed a little light on torture and the ability for seemingly normal people to commit evil acts. The first is from psych 101, the famous Milgram experiment from 1961.



In the Milgram experiment, a teacher is ordered by the experimenter to administer painful electric shocks to a learner, who is actually an actor. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner is receiving painful electric shocks, although in reality there were no such shocks. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level.

Results were unfortunately very consistent. 65% of the teachers administered the final 450 volt killing shock when instructed to do so, desire the tortured pleas of the subjects.
Before conducting the experiment, Milgram polled fourteen Yale University senior-year psychology majors to predict the behavior of 100 hypothetical teachers. All of the poll respondents believed that only a very small fraction of teachers (the range was from zero to 3 out of 100, with an average of 1.2) would be prepared to inflict the maximum voltage. Milgram also informally polled his colleagues and found that they, too, believed very few subjects would progress beyond a very strong shock.[1] Milgram also polled forty psychiatrists from a medical school, and they believed that by the tenth shock, when the victim demands to be free, most subjects would stop the experiment. They predicted that by the 300-volt shock, when the victim refuses to answer, only 3.73 percent of the subjects would still continue and, they believed that "only a little over one-tenth of one percent of the subjects would administer the highest shock on the board."[7]
In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent (26 of 40)[1] of experiment participants administered the experiment's final massive 450-volt shock, though many were very uncomfortable doing so; at some point, every participant paused and questioned the experiment; some said they would refund the money they were paid for participating in the experiment. Throughout the experiment, subjects displayed varying degrees of tension and stress. Subjects were sweating, trembling, stuttering, biting their lips, groaning, digging their fingernails into their skin, and some were even having nervous laughing fits or seizures.
The other experiment that the torture report brought to my mind was the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, developed in 1971 with the US Office of Naval Research. This test was conceived by a Psychology Professor named Philip Zimbardo. Seventy five students were divvied up into guards and captors in a mock prison at Stanford. I hope that you will watch the video and listen to some of the statements from the participants about becoming another person when you put on a uniform.
Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture. Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse, and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. Two of the prisoners quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment was abruptly stopped after only six days. 
Eventually, Zimbardo became involved with the defense team of lawyers representing one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick. He was granted full access to all investigation and background reports, and testified as an expert witness in SSG Frederick's court martial, which resulted in an eight-year prison sentence for Frederick in October 2004. Zimbardo drew from his participation in the Frederick case to write the book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, published by Random House in 2007, which deals with the striking similarities between his own Stanford Prison Experiment and the Abu Ghraib abuses.


I want to print the transcript of Chuck Todd's Meet the Press interview and add a few thoughts of my own:


This Sunday, the Senate's torture report.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN:
We have failed to live by the very precepts that makes our nation a great one.
CHUCK TODD:
The report concludes that the CIA misled the public, Congress, and the Bush White House over the use of these controversial interrogation tactics.
JOHN MCCAIN:
It produced little useful intelligence to track down the perpetrators of 9/11 or prevent new attacks and atrocities.
CHUCK TODD:
There is no shortage of CIA critics, but former Vice President Dick Cheney is unapologetic. He insists, the program saved American lives.
DICK CHENEY:
We did exactly what we needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty of 9/11 and to prevent a further attack.

Dick Cheney is unapologetic. And remarkably unmindful about the human collateral damage. Subjecting roughly 25% of the prisoners who were later found to be innocent to enhanced interrogation techniques which even those inside the agency defined as torture. He shows as much sympathy as most people do when they inadvertently crush an ant.

CHUCK TODD:
I'll be joined by Dick Cheney for an exclusive network TV interview.
Plus the drone program, killing suspected terrorists. Could we view drones years from now the same way some of us are viewing interrogation tactics today
MICAH ZENKO:
In fact most of the individuals who we kill we have much less information about than the individual, the 119 that we captured.
CHUCK TODD;
Also, thousands gather in cities across the country to protest police treatment of black men.
AQUIL SAAFIR:
As a young black man, you're pulled over constantly.
CHUCK TODD:
Why is there such distrust between the police and African Americans?
CHARLES BECK:
To think that those flight and fight instincts aren't going to be present in police officers is to deny humanity.
CHUCK TODD:
I'm Chuck Todd and joining me to provide insight and analysis are former senior adviser to President Obama David Axelrod, NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Helene Cooper of the New York Times, and former chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq Dan Senor.
Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.
ANNOUNCER:
From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.
CHUCK TODD:
Good morning. Some late news, last night this Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill. It will fund the government through next September. Bottom line, no government shutdown this year or perhaps next as well. But let's get to our big story, the Senate report on what some call torture, what others call enhanced interrogation techniques.
The report put together by Senate Democrats on the intelligence committee. It's a detailed and, in some cases, shocking indictment of the methods used to interrogate detainees. There's no shortage of critics of what C.I.A. did. And there's has been no more forceful defender of the tactics than our first guest, former Vice President Dick Cheney. So let's get right to it. Vice President Cheney, welcome back to Meet the Press.
DICK CHENEY:
Morning, Chuck. It's good to be back.
CHUCK TODD:
Well, let me start with quoting you. You said earlier this week, "Torture was something that was very carefully avoided." It implies that you have a definition of what torture is. What is it?
DICK CHENEY:
Well, torture, to me, Chuck, is an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York City on 9/11. There's this notion that somehow there's moral equivalence between what the terrorists and what we do. And that's absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture. The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture. But we worked hard to stay short of that definition.

So torture is flying planes into buildings and killing americans. Anything short of that in Cheneyspeak is not torture. Or anything that we do can't be torture because the lawyers said it was okay.

CHUCK TODD:
Well, what is that definition?
DICK CHENEY:
Definitions, and one that was provided by the Office of Legal Counsel, we went specifically to them because we did not want to cross that line into where we violating some international agreement that we'd signed up to. They specifically authorized and okayed, for example, exactly what we did. All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those without, in fact, committing torture.

The lawyers said it was okay.

CHUCK TODD:
Let me go through some of those techniques that were used, Majid Khan, was subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration. It included two bottles of Ensure, later in the same day Majid Khan's lunch tray consisting of hummus, pasta, sauce, nuts and raisins was pureed and rectally infused.
DICK CHENEY:
That wasn't--
CHUCK TODD:
Does that meet the definition of torture?
DICK CHENEY:
--that does not meet the definition of what was used in the program as--
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
I understand. But does that meet the definition of torture in your mind?
DICK CHENEY:
--in my mind, I've told you what meets the definition of torture. It's what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.

Medical experts point out that the colon has no lining to absorb nutrients, there is no nutritional value in shoving a tube of food up somebody's ass although it does allow the body to hydrate. In any case, one of the CIA interrogators is on record saying that this type of anal rape sodomy allowed them to take total control of a subject, something I am sure that many prisoners subjected to prison rape will also attest to.

CHUCK TODD:
I mean, medical community has said there is no medical--
(OVERTALK)
DICK CHENEY:
If you go and look, for example, at Jose Rodriguez book, and he was the guy running the program, he's got a very clear description of how, in fact, the program operated. With respect to that I think the agency has answered it and its response to the committee report and I--
CHUCK TODD:
--but you acknowledge this was over and above.
DICK CHENEY:
--that was not something that was done as part of the interrogation program.

But you did it anyway.

CHUCK TODD:
But you won't call it torture.
DICK CHENEY:
It wasn't torture in terms of it wasn't part of the program.

Totally nonsensical rejoinder. Non responsive. Wasn't part of the program but it was part of the program. Blame the agents.

CHUCK TODD:
Let me ask you this, we've got Riyadh al-Najjar. He had handcuffing on one or both of his wrists to an overhead bar, would not allow him to lower his arms. Twenty-two hours each day for two consecutive days in order to break his resistance. Al-Najjar was also wearing a diaper and had no access to toilet facility. Was that acknowledged? Was that part of the program that you approved?
DICK CHENEY:
I can't tell from that specific whether it was or not.

Once you surrender your moral virginity it is next to impossible to stuff the genie back into the bottle. You have now become them, exigent circumstances be damned. Cheney can not bring himself to address the moral aspect of torturing, or utilizing enhanced interrogation methods, he can only trumpet the fact that they worked. Auschwitz worked quite efficiently too.

CHUCK TODD:
And then--
DICK CHENEY:
I know we had--
CHUCK TODD:
--page 53 of the report.
DICK CHENEY:
--the report is seriously flawed. They didn't talk to anybody who knew anything about the program. They didn't talk to anybody within the program. The best guide for what in fact happened is the one that's the report that was produced by the three C.I.A. directors and deputy directors of the C.I.A. when this program was undertaken.
And, in fact, it lays out in very clear terms what we did and how we did it. And with respect to trying to define that as torture I come back to the proposition torture was what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. There's no comparison between that and what we did with inspect-enhanced interrogation.

Hang Dick Cheney from an overhead bar for 44 hours and then ask him if it was torture. They went through thousands of cables, they didn't need to speak to anybody active, especially since much was gleaned from Panetta's internal review.

CHUCK TODD:
I guess--
DICK CHENEY:
So not true.
CHUCK TODD:
--but some of these tactics went above and beyond what was improved.
DICK CHENEY:
But--
CHUCK TODD:
I mean, here's another one. Let me read you another one here. With Abu Zubaydah, over a 20-day period, aggressive interrogations. Spent a total of 266 hours, 11 days, two hours, in a large coffin-sized confinement box, 29 hours in a small confinement box, width of 21 inches, depth of 2.5 feet, height of 2.5 feet. That's on page 42.
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
Is that going to meet the standard--
DICK CHENEY:
I think that was--
CHUCK TODD:
--of the definition of torture?
DICK CHENEY:
--I think that was, in fact, one of the approved techniques. In terms of torture I guess what I do, I was struck, for example, by the statements by Bud Day and Leo Thorsness and Admiral Denton. These are three folks who were captured by the North Vietnamese, held for a year, subject to extreme torture. And all of whom said that waterboarding was not torture.
Now you can look for various definitions. We did what was, in fact, required to make certain that going forward we were not violating the law. And the law, as interpreted by the justice department, the Office of Legal Counsel was very clear. And the techniques that we did, in fact, use that the president authorized that produced results, that gave us the information we needed to be able to safeguard the nation against further attacks and to be able to track those guilty for 9/11 did, in fact, work. Now the Senate committee partisan operation, no Republicans involved, no interviews of anybody involved itself--
CHUCK TODD:
It's all C.I.A. documentation--
DICK CHENEY:
It's, Chuck--
CHUCK TODD:
--in here. It is all C.I.A. documentation.
DICK CHENEY:
--Chuck, if you look at it and you look at what the people running the agency said and what Jose Rodriguez said who ran the program, he's a good man, that, as I said the other day, I won't use the word on your show. It may be family, it's a crock. It's not true. And it's not--
CHUCK TODD:
Have you read more of the report since?
DICK CHENEY:
--I've read parts of it. The whole report hasn't even been released.
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
Right, all you've gotten is the 500 page.
DICK CHENEY:
Yeah, all you've got--
CHUCK TODD:
This is the executive summary.
DICK CHENEY:
--is the summary. Go read what the directors of the agency said about the report. They were extremely critical of it as were the Republicans who served on the committee. It's a flawed report. It didn't begin to approach what's required by way of responsive oversight.
CHUCK TODD:
Does it plant any seed of doubt of you in though?
DICK CHENEY:
No.
CHUCK TODD:
No seed of doubt at all? All this--
DICK CHENEY:
Absolutely not.

Because the man is incapable of critical self introspection. He has never made an error in his life.

CHUCK TODD:
--all of this information in here, no seed of doubt that whether this worked or not.
DICK CHENEY:
It worked. It absolutely did work.
CHUCK TODD:
Let me ask you, what do you say to Gul Rahman, what do you say to Sulaiman Abdula, what do you say to Khalid al-Masri? All three of these folks were detained, they had these interrogation techniques used on them. They eventually were found to be innocent. They were released, no apologies, nothing. What do we owe them?
DICK CHENEY:
Well--
CHUCK TODD:
I mean, let me go to Gul Rahman. He was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water, froze to death in C.I.A. custody. And it turned out it was a case of mistaken identity.
DICK CHENEY:
--right. But the problem I had is with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield. Of the 600 and some people who were released out of Guantanamo, 30% roughly ended up back on the battlefield. Today we're very concerned about ISIS. Terrible new terrorist organization.
It is headed by named Baghdadi. Baghdadi was in the custody of the U.S. military in Iraq in Camp Bucca. He was let go and now he's out leading the terror attack against the United States. I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.

Sucks to be Gul Rahman. Can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

CHUCK TODD:
25% of the detainees though, 25% turned out to be innocent. They were released.
DICK CHENEY:
Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are--

Where are you going to draw the line Dick? What if one of the innocents was one of your family members? Would you be whistling a different tune?

CHUCK TODD:
Well, I'm asking you.
DICK CHENEY:
--you going to know?
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
Is that too high? You're okay with that margin for error?
DICK CHENEY:
I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did. We got authorizing from the president and authorization from the Justice Department to go forward with the program. It worked. It worked now for 13 years.
We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States. And we did capture Bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys at Al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I'd do it again in a minute.

Bush said it was okay. As long as we meet our objective we can engage in any vile act we care to. Because we are American exceptionalists, representing the powers of good.

CHUCK TODD:
When you say waterboarding is not torture, then why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers in World War II for waterboarding?
(OVERTALK)
DICK CHENEY:
For a lot of stuff. Not for waterboarding. They did an awful lot of other stuff to draw some kind of moral equivalent between waterboarding judged by our Justice Department not to be torture and what the Japanese did with the Bataan Death March and the slaughter of thousands of Americans, with the rape of Nanking and all of the other crimes they committed, that's an outrage. It's a really cheap shot, Chuck, to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for war crimes after World War II and what we did with waterboarding three individuals--

Not true. The Japanese were prosecuted for waterboarding. There were more than three individuals waterboarded, in fact a whole new waterboard was discovered in a picture at a black site that was never explained or accounted for.

CHUCK TODD:
I understand.
DICK CHENEY:
--all of whom were guilty and participated in the 9/11 attacks.
CHUCK TODD:
Is there a reason these interrogations didn't happen on U.S. soil? Was there concern that maybe these folks would get legal protections--
DICK CHENEY:
Well--
CHUCK TODD:
--from the United States and that's why it was done at black sites?
DICK CHENEY:
--we didn't read them their Miranda rights either. These are not American citizens. They are unlawful combatants. They are terrorists. They are people who have committed unlawful acts of war against the American people. And we put them in places where we could proceed with the interrogation program and find out what they knew so we could protect the country against further attack. And it worked.

Except for the ones that weren't.

CHUCK TODD:
Let me ask you to respond to John McCain and David Petraeus. General Petraeus said this in 2007 to his troops about these interrogation techniques, "Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. That would be wrong." And of course here's what Senator McCain said earlier this week.
JOHN MCCAIN (ON TAPE):
I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies. Our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights which are protected by international conventions, the United States not only joined but for the most part authored.
CHUCK TODD:
Your reaction?
DICK CHENEY:
My reaction is the same as Leo Thorsness. He was on the air this week. Captured pilot shot down over Vietnam, held in captivity for many years, subjected to torture who this week said, "Waterboarding is not torture." He also holds the medal of honor as did Bud Day who was also captured and tortured and subsequently made it clear that he did not believe waterboarding was torture.

John McCain is a pussy. What does he know from torture?

CHUCK TODD:
So if an American citizen is waterboarded by ISIS are we going to try to prosecute for war crimes?
DICK CHENEY:
He's not likely to be waterboarded, he's likely to have his head cut off. It's not a close call.
CHUCK TODD:
If another country captures a U.S. soldier, the Iranian regime, water boards--
DICK CHENEY:
Chuck, he--
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
--is that going to be an accepted--
DICK CHENEY:
--you're trying to come up now with hypothetical situations. Waterboarding, the way we did it, was, in fact, not torture. Now when you're dealing with terrorists, the likes of Al Qaeda or the ISIS, I haven't seen them water board anybody. What they did is cut their heads off. What they did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11, that was brutal, bloody murder. It absolutely can't be compared with what we did with respect to our enhanced interrogation program.
CHUCK TODD:
Now there is an implication here that you, yourself, were misled by the C.I.A. In particular, it has to do with Jose Padilla. A memo that was prepared for you by the C.I.A. said, "Use of DOJ authorized enhanced interrogation techniques as part of the comprehensive interrogation program has enabled us to disrupt terrorists' plots. Dirty bomb plot, Operative Jose Padilla, and Binyam Mohamed plan to build and detonate a dirty bomb in the Washington D.C. area.
Plot was disrupted the source with Abu Zubaydah. In this same report, two pages later this is what the Senate Democrats found, "A review of C.I.A. cables and other C.I.A. records found that the use of the C.I.A.'s enhanced interrogation technique played no role in the identification of Jose Padilla or the thwarting of the dirty bomb or the tall buildings plot." Do you feel as if they were telling you what you wanted to hear?
DICK CHENEY:
No, I think--
CHUCK TODD:
What's the implication here?
DICK CHENEY:
--well, the implication is just wrong. And, again, the C.I.A. directors make it very clear that they got it very wrong time after time after time. The notion that we were not notified at the White House about what was going on is not true.
I sat through a lengthy session in '04 with the inspector general of the C.I.A. as he reviewed the state of the program at that time. The suggestion, for example, that the president didn't approve it, wrong. That's a lie, that's not true. We were, in fact--
CHUCK TODD:
How was he briefed? How was the president briefed?
DICK CHENEY:
--he was briefed--
CHUCK TODD:
By C.I.A. or by you or by--
DICK CHENEY:
--I was heavily involved as was especially the National Security Council, Condi. The president writes about it in his own book.
CHUCK TODD:
--so you were directly--
DICK CHENEY:
Wrote it in his book.
CHUCK TODD:
--right, well, three pages in his book he talks about it. But you were briefed directly, he was briefed indirectly most of the time. Is that fair to say?
DICK CHENEY:
That's not fair to say. What happened was he and I met every single morning with the director of the C.I.A., with the National Security advisors six days a week and reviewed everything basically in the intelligence arena. That's where we got most of our information, that and the written PDB.
There would be special meetings from time to time on various subjects that he would be directly involved in. This man knew what we were doing. He authorized it, he approved it. A statement by the Senate Democrats for partisan purposes that the president didn't know what was going on is just a flat out lie.

Man was too stupid to understand. He did what I told him to do.

CHUCK TODD:
But back to--
DICK CHENEY:
It's a cheap shot piece of political business that was not bipartisan nor was it involved any discussion of the people involved in the program.
CHUCK TODD:
You have--
DICK CHENEY:
Why would you even give that credence?
CHUCK TODD:
--well, let me ask you this, why do you not have some doubt in the C.I.A.? This is the same intelligence community that didn't get it right on WMDs in Iraq. Why are you so confident that they're telling you the truth in these memos?
DICK CHENEY:
Well, because I know the people involved because I've worked-- five out of the six former directors and deputy directors are men I've known for years and trust intimately with the difficult problems they'd dealt with. Jose Rodriguez is one of the outstanding officers in the agency.
I know what they were asked to do and I know what they did. And I'm perfectly comfortable that they deserve our praise, they deserve to be decorated. They don't deserve to be harassed. Can you imagine what it's going to be like if you were out there now as an officer in the agency and you were undertaking a complicated, difficult, dangerous task and you had the view that ten years from now even though the president approved it, even though the Justice Department signed off on it, some politician on Capitol Hill is going to come back and want a piece of your fanny.

Jose Rodriguez, the great patriot who took it upon himself to burn all the interrogation tapes before anybody could see them.

CHUCK TODD:
Well, it--
DICK CHENEY:
That's an outrageous proposition that we're going through here that it's even being discussed.
CHUCK TODD:
Well, it's interesting you bring that up because here's a United Nations, this is Ben Emerson, special envoy in human rights and counterterrorism. And he wants a criminal probe here. This is what he said, "It's now time to take action. Individuals responsible," what he calls a, "Criminal conspiracy revealed in the report must be brought to justice. Must criminal penalties." And then he ends with, "U.S. legally is obliged to bring those responsible to justice." I know how you feel on this. You think the president's should issue a blanket--
(OVERTALK)
DICK CHENEY:
I have little respect for the United Nations or for this individual who doesn't hear a clue and had absolutely no responsibility for safeguarding this nation and going after the bastards that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

We can kill thousands with drones and missiles in foreign lands and that is okay. There is a slight moral difference between innocents getting killed in drone and missile strikes and directly torturing innocent people to get information. War is not hygienic or perfect, there will always be people unfortunately lost in the crossfire. But administering genital shocks and smothering innocent people and freezing them in a government sanctioned black site or torture chamber is beyond perverse and medieval. We have lost the moral high ground.

CHUCK TODD:
Do you think the president should issue a blanket pardon to C.I.A. agents involved here?
DICK CHENEY:
There's no pardon needed. No crime was committed.
CHUCK TODD:
But just to--
DICK CHENEY:
No crime.
CHUCK TODD:
--make sure?
DICK CHENEY:
Who wants to sanction or satisfy some executive at the United Nations who doesn't have any say or responsibility on a claim that some kind of pardon is required, Chuck? This is, again, I come back to the proposition. One of the things I'm really worried about is what this is doing long-term.
We're still at war. The terrorists that are out there today is as bad as it was on 9/11. We've got ISIS talking about attacking the United States, having created a caliphate. We're in a situation at least as bad as we had on 9/11 when after the attack we had word that Al Qaeda was trying to acquire nuclear weapons.
Now we're sitting here today. We are castigating the C.I.A. for doing what the president ordered them to do and the Justice Department said was legal. We're doing enormous damage to our relationship overseas with our friends and allies who've supported us and worked with us. We're making it very, very difficult to be able to go recruit foreign agents to work with us because they're likely to be hung out to dry by politicians on Capitol Hill who've got some kind of political axe to grind.
We're in big trouble partly because of the irresponsible content, is the way I would describe it, with respect to this act. And if the Senate will go forward, the Senate Democrats would go forward, not with a bipartisan approach, not with an approach that takes into account the views of the people who were involved, goes forward for some political reason, trashing a very, very good program that worked, that saved lives, that kept us from another attack.

You either believe in the Geneva Conventions or you don't. 

CHUCK TODD:
All right, let me ask you a couple of quick questions. I want to play for you an interesting clip of you 20 years ago about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Take a look.
DICK CHENEY (ON TAPE):
That's a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of Eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds. And the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far.

Let's fuck the Kurds again.

CHUCK TODD:
By the way, you look good there. Didn't look like much--
DICK CHENEY:
How old were you--
CHUCK TODD:
--didn't look like 20 years.
DICK CHENEY:
--twenty years ago?
CHUCK TODD:
What was I? I think I was 22 at the time. Let me ask you this, you could arguably, somebody hearing that today says, "Boy, that's what Iraq looks like today." Right now it looks like it might split up. It looks like it's ungovernable. It looks like pieces of Syria and pieces of Iraq are, you know, I mean, everything you described is happening today.
DICK CHENEY:
So what's your question?
CHUCK TODD:
Well, I guess I ask you, do you regret pushing Saddam Hussein out, do you regret the Iraq--
(OVERTALK)
DICK CHENEY:
No, a lot has happened. A lot has happened between that time, 9/11, for example, happened. We got to the point where we were very concerned about the possible linkage between terrorists on the one hand and weapons of mass destruction on the other. Saddam Hussein had previously had twice nuclear programs going. He produced and used weapons of mass destruction. And he had a ten-year relationship with Al Qaeda. All of things came into play.
(OVERTALK)
CHUCK TODD:
By the way, some of the Al Qaeda stuff is questioned in here.
DICK CHENEY:
When it was time to get into the business of deciding the importance to go after Iraq, we did the right thing. I believe the it was, in fact, the right action then and I believe it now.         

I think that we should be very concerned about what happens to Americans captured in combat from here on out. We can't have a rule for us and a rule for the rest of the world. And we need to be concerned about Justice Department lawyers who craft immoral writs and rulings that deliver whatever their bosses require, irrespective of law and basic notions of morality. 

Beware of lawyers and politicians who play semantical word games, parse the word torture, will try to convince you that the sky is green. And we need to be concerned about elected officials who are willing to do anything to achieve their objectives, even kill and torture and not give the slightest damn about the innocent people that they mow down in their path.