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Cheney falsely accuses Obama of ‘libel’ against CIA over torture

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Torture is not torture, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and to refer it to as such should be considered libelous. Even if it doesn’t actually qualify as libel.

The Washington Times‘ Amanda Carpenter reports, “Maintaining his stature as one of the most forceful defenders of the Bush Administration’s defense policies former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Obama of committing ‘libel’ against CIA interrogators on Wednesday” during a speech at the Center for Security Policy.

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“In the speech, Mr. Cheney charged that President Obama has ‘filled the air with vague and useless platitude’ when talking about torture and by calling enhanced interrogation techniques ‘torture” he has committed ‘libel’ against CIA interrogators whom Mr. Cheney described as ‘dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause,'” Carpenter adds.

Cheney’s full comments Wednesday:

In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald noted last June, “The U.S. has prosecuted those acts as torture in the past. Multiple media outlets and even the U.S. Government have routinely described those acts as “torture” when used against Americans, rather than by Americans. The tactics are ones we copied from manuals designed to inure our own troops to the torture techniques used by some of the world’s worst tyrants. They resulted in numerous deaths. Until the Bush administration decided to call it something other than ‘torture’ so that they could do it, nobody had any questions about whether this was ‘torture.'”

Dick isn’t the first Cheney to pull the L card on the torture debate.

In May, Elizabeth Cheney said on MSNBC that her father felt “very strongly that he has an obligation to defend the brave men and women that carried out the program who have been really libeled by the current administration when they call it torture and say we somehow are not upholding American values.”

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Mother Jones‘ legal adviser James Chadwick later dismissed the charge.

Liz Cheney’s been reading too much George Orwell and not enough first amendment. You can’t libel the government, and statements of opinion can’t be libelous. I think Liz Cheney would be particularly interested in defending the idea that what constitutes torture is a matter of opinion because if not, her father might be in a lot of trouble. She’s not talking about specific allegations about specific people. She’s talking about people saying what the US government did… was torture.

One of the reasons the founding fathers established the first amendment was to do away with the idea of seditious libel – libeling the king. You cannot be sued for saying bad things about the government, period.

As Politics Daily’s David Sessions notes, “The word ‘libel’ typically refers to printed accusations, or those spoken in a broadcast medium, while ‘slander’ refers to words spoken in a public setting.”

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