by digby

In ABC's exit interview, Dick Cheney makes it pretty clear that he doesn't think he needs to fear war crimes trials. He proudly admits to them.

The vice president was unapologetic in his defense of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies, including the use of waterboarding, and said the prison at Guantanamo Bay should remain open as long as there's a war on terror.

Cheney said waterboarding was an appropriate means of getting information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He was also asked whether he authorized the tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"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.

"There was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from that one source," he added, referring to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. "So, it's been a remarkably successful effort. I think the results speak for themselves."

Cheney said the prison at Guantanamo Bay could be responsibly shut down only when the war on terror has ended. Asked when that might be, he added, "Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that."

Cheney warned that prisoners released from Guantanamo could prove dangerous to the United States, adding that the problem of what to do with released prisoners had not yet been solved.

"If you're going to close Guantanamo, what are you going to do with those prisoners?" he asked. "One suggestion is, well, we bring them to the United States. Well, I don't know very many congressmen, for example, who are eager to have 200 al Qaeda terrorists deposited in their district."

Meantime, Cheney said the Guantanamo detainees have been "well treated."
"I don't know any other nation in the world that would do what we've done in terms of taking care of people who are avowed enemies, and many of whom still swear up and down that their only objective is to kill more Americans," he said.

You've probably also read that he believes we would have invaded Iraq no matter what, ostensibly because Saddam could have decided to build the bomb someday and we just couldn't take the chance. (Of course, he's still lying --- he didn't care about Saddam at all.)

And the landmine about al Qaeda terrorists shopping at the neighborhood WalMart is very clever. They obviously hope to tie this mess around Barack Obama's neck and destroy any hope he has of forging a clean break with Cheney's psycho foreign policy.

He clearly believes he is in no danger of prosecutions for his crimes here in the US, but I wouldn't leave the country any time soon if I were him. War criminals find themselves in unusual situations these days when foreign nations decide they have to take justice into their own hands when the home country refuses to do it. And it's not like the US could exactly complain about it.

Cheney is a sick piece of work. But we knew that.

Update: Vanity Fair is reporting that the analysts who prepared the intel weren't told that the sources had been tortured:

Two Bush administration intelligence analysts who wrote reports on the C.I.A.’s interrogation of a “high value” al-Qaeda detainee were never told he had been subject to waterboarding and other coercive methods, Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose reports.

The analysts’ reports on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002, were used to make the case within the administration for invading Iraq, Rose reports, and selectively leaked to journalists.

Yet the reports’ authors had no idea that Abu Zubaydah had been questioned using methods that the International Committee of the Red Cross has categorized as torture.

Jane Mayer’s recent book The Dark Side (Doubleday) cites a Red Cross investigation report as evidence that Abu Zubaydah was locked into a box the size of a “tiny coffin,” beaten, and waterboarded. Because this was torture, the Red Cross said, it exposed those responsible to possible prosecution.

Some of what Abu Zubaydah said after this treatment was leaked to the media by the administration before the Iraq invasion: for example, the claim that Osama bin Laden and his ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were working directly with Saddam Hussein in order to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

There was much more, says the first analyst, who worked at the Pentagon: “There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.”

Within the administration, Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation was “an important chapter,” the second analyst says. Neither analyst had any idea that he had been tortured.

The claim that there was an operational relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam has since been authoritatively dismissed, in reports by bodies including the 9/11 commission and the Senate intelligence committee. Rose quotes the former F.B.I. counterterrorism expert Dan Coleman, who worked on the Abu Zubaydah case, and says that his true position in the terrorist hierarchy means that he would not have known whether such a relationship existed or not. But under torture, Coleman says, “you can lead people down a course and make them say anything.”

“As soon as I learned that the reports had come from torture, once my anger had subsided I understood the damage it had done,” a Pentagon analyst says. “I was so angry, knowing that the higher-ups in the administration knew he was tortured, and that the information he was giving up was tainted by the torture, and that it became one reason to attack Iraq.

“We didn’t know he’d been waterboarded and tortured when we did that analysis, and the reports were marked as credible as they could be.” However, approval for Abu Zubaydah’s treatment had been given at the highest level.

“The White House knew he’d been tortured. I didn’t, though I was supposed to be evaluating that intelligence,” the analyst says. “It seems to me they were using torture to achieve a political objective. I cannot believe that the president and vice president did not know who was being waterboarded and what was being given up.”

Rose’s article includes an interview with Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Branch from the spring of 2002 until May 2008. As the U.K.’s chief counterterrorist official, he succeeded in stopping several jihadist attacks that were far advanced.

Asked to comment on claims made by President Bush in 2006 that waterboarding and other “enhanced” techniques had “thwarted a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into Heathrow [airport] or the Canary Wharf in London,” Clarke, who has not discussed this issue in public before, says that if al-Qaeda had really discussed a plot of this kind it was nowhere near fruition. “It wasn’t at an advanced stage in the sense that there were people here in the U.K. doing it. If they had been, I’d have arrested them.”

Rose also interviewed F.B.I. director Robert Mueller. The article states that Rose reminded him of some of the attacks planned against targets on American soil since 9/11 that his agents were said to have disrupted—for example, a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and another to wreak mayhem at army recruiting centers in Torrance, California.

Rose asks Mueller whether, so far as he is aware, any attacks on America have been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques.”

“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate, “I don’t believe that has been the case.”