In an interview with MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell, Liz Cheney, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State during the Bush administration, defended her father, saying that the harsh interrogation tactics yielded valuable intelligence and that the tactics didn’t amount to torture.
Cheney added that the tactics outlined in the CIA memos are the same techniques are used on Americans for training purposes. “Everything that was done in this program, as has been laid out and described before, are tactics that our own people go through in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Evasion) training,” she said adding, “We did not torture our own people.”
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From Think Progress:
On MSNBC this afternoon, former State Department official Liz Cheney, who is the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, defended the infamous Bush-era torture memos that were recently released by the Obama administration. “The tactics are not torture, we did not torture,” said Cheney.
To support her claim that the brutal techniques, such as waterboarding, that were authorized by the memos are not torture, Cheney invoked the common conservative argument that the techniques were derived from special forces training called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Evasion (SERE) […]
As Media Matters noted when Fox News’ Jim Angle pushed the same argument, the Bush Justice Department acknowledged in one of the torture memos that waterboarding detainees is “a very different situation” from what went on in SERE training:
Individuals undergoing SERE training are obviously in a very different situation from detainees undergoing interrogation; SERE trainees know it is part of a training program, not a real-life interrogation regime, they presumably know it will last only a short time, and they presumably have assurances that they will not be significantly harmed by the training.
On Monday, Time’s Michael Scherer and Bobby Ghosh noted that a CIA inspector general report had found that the waterboarding used on detainees “was significantly different from that used in the SERE program”:
However, the IG investigation found that the waterboarding technique used on the CIA’s detainees was significantly different from that used in the SERE program: most notably, the Agency’s interrogators used much larger volumes of water.
The IG also cites the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) in saying that the “the expertise of the SERE psychologists/interrogators … was probably misrepresented.” The IG concluded: “Consequently, according to OMS, there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used … was either efficacious or medically safe.”
Finally, there is no credible way that Cheney can claim that trainees undergoing waterboarding during SERE training had it applied to them with “the frequency and intensity with which it was used” on detainees. As Marcy Wheeler pointed out, one of the released memos revealed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.