- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is “misleading the American people” by asserting that harsh interrogation tactics used on suspected terrorists were essential to keeping America safe, a Democratic senator charged Wednesday at an oversight hearing on the Bush administration’s so-called “torture memos.”

Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, rejected claims made by Mr. Cheney in recent days that classified CIA memos prove that waterboarding and other techniques approved by the Bush administration Justice Department protected the nation from more terrorist attacks after 9/11.

“Nothing I have seen — including the two documents to which former Vice President Cheney has repeatedly referred — indicates that the torture techniques … were necessary,” said Mr. Feingold, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who has access to classified documents. “The former vice president is misleading the American people when he says otherwise.”

Mr. Cheney has earned headlines for his stinging criticism of the Obama administration’s dismantling of Bush-era interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, which Mr. Obama has deemed torture. Most recently, the former vice president charged this Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the country is now more vulnerable to attacks.

“That’s my belief,” Mr. Cheney said. “I think to the extent that those [enhanced interrogation] policies were responsible for saving lives, that the administration is now trying to cancel those policies … means in the future we’re not going to have the same safeguards we’ve had for the last eight years.”

Mr. Cheney and several high-ranking Republicans in Congress have called on the administration to declassify additional memos detailing what information was obtained through harsh interrogation tactics to give what they say would be a fairer picture of the program.

Congressional Republicans also insist that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and other senior Capitol Hill Democrats were briefed about the interrogation techniques as far back as 2002 and raised no objections at the time.

The Senate hearing, before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, was the first public probe of the controversial Justice Department memos released by President Obama last month. It featured testimony from an FBI interrogator; the head of the 9/11 Commission, who was also a top aide to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and other legal scholars.

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