Critics and defenders of a US senate report on CIA “torture” programs took turns to tear each other apart over the report’s findings on the “war on terror”, opening fresh political wounds.
On Sunday, former US vice president Dick Cheney vehemently defended the CIA program and lauded CIA operatives as heroes.
“I’m perfectly comfortable that they should be praised, they should be decorated. I’d do it again in a minute”, President George W. Bush former right-hand man told NBC television’s “Meet the Press” program.
However, US Senator John McCain, who is one of the fiercest critics of the program and was himself of victim of torture during the Vietnam War, remained adamant the treatment of detainees was wrong.
“There were violations of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners”, he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation”.
Last week, Senate Democrats released the long-awaited investigation into interrogation and detention practices at secret detention facilities and Guantanamo Bay prison camp, labeled as “black sites”, where detainees have been secretly held.
Cheney insisted that there was “no comparison” between the tactics used and the deaths of Americans on 9/11, adding that the CIA “has very carefully avoided” the practice of torture.“Torture is what the al-Qaida terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11”, he said.
However, others believe that the CIA has deliberately misled the people over the extent and severity of the “enhanced interrogation program”.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said that lawmakers, top officials and the public were all not given information about the true nature of the agency’s program.
“We spent a lot of time looking into it and were told, this is a very minor thing. You know, you just touch them with the waterboard and they confess”, he told CBS’s “Face the Nation”.
Democrat, Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that it might be time to sack CIA Director John Brennan. According to Wyden, the CIA is stricken with a “culture of denial” and might use the discredited interrogation methods again unless those who tolerated them are expelled.
Cheney strongly disagreed with the report’s assessment on the interrogation techniques, saying, “It worked. It absolutely worked”.
He also said that then President George W. Bush was fully aware about the program. “This man knew what we were doing. He authorized it. He approved it”, Cheney said.
Several republicans have hinted that revealing the document has and would put America and its interests overseas at risk. However, McCain insisted that doing so was the right thing.
“We do things wrong. We make mistakes. We review those. And we vow never to do them again”, he said.