Senator: 'As far as I'm concerned,' Cheney admitted condoning torture
David Edwards and Diane Sweet
Published: Thursday December 18, 2008

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Vice President Dick Cheney confessed to approving torture, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday night.

During an interview with ABC News on Monday evening, Cheney had said "I supported it," referring to the practice known as "waterboarding," a form of simulated drowning.

"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."

"Did he just admit to condoning torture?" Maddow queries.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what he admitted," Levin said after a pause to shut his eyes, and shake his head as if still in disbelief.

"Now he'll say that he doesn't admit supporting torture," Levin added, "but facts are that the policies which were approved, the legal opinions authorized these harsh techniques, and when the Vice President of the United States says that he believes -- and he said that what, just a few nights ago -- that waterboarding is 'appropriate,' there is no other conclusion that I can reach other than I know it's a form of torture, it's been acknowledged as a form of torture I think since the Inquisition. Senator McCain who was the subject of torture is absolutely clear on it, but I think every authority on waterboarding and torture will say that waterboarding constitutes 'torture.'"

Senator Levin oversaw an 18-month long investigation into the Bush administrationís torture policy that established that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay resulted from policies introduced by George W. Bush. Levin spoke on the need for further investigations, and the ultimate necessity for indictments in order to hold those responsible for torture policies accountable.

"You can't suddenly change something that's illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion saying it's legal," Levin said later.

"Do there need to be prosecutions?" Maddow asked, steering the discussion towards the possibility of prosecution and indictments by noting that the Armed Services Committee report on the treatment of U.S. detainees seemed as if its purpose had been the gathering facts for an indictment.

Levin spoke hopefully that the Obama administration would take some "major steps" as "clearly this Justice Department is not willing," and the need for an independent commission that could be appointed by the Obama administration to examine the role of the CIA in the treatment of U.S. detainees as their role has not yet been made clear. Then with all the facts they "may or may not lead to indictments, or civil action."

"You heard the "I" word here," Maddow concludes. "Indictments!"

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 17, 2008.

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