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Bush FBI Director In 2008: Torture Didn't Foil Any Plots

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Aspects of the Material World
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« on: April 24, 2009, 01:11:26 pm »

Bush FBI Director In 2008: Torture Didn't Foil Any Plots

Now that Bush administration officials have launched a major campaign to persuade us that torture “worked,” perhaps it’s worth recalling that George W. Bush’s own FBI director said in an interview last year that he wasn’t aware of a single planned terror attack on America that had been foiled by information obtained through torture.

Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Bush in 2001 and remains FBI director under Obama, delivered that assessment at the end of this December 2008 article in Vanity Fair on torture:

I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America 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.”

That stands in direct contrast to Dick Cheney’s recent claim that torture has been “enormously valuable” in terms of “preventing another mass-casualty attack against the United States.”

You’d think that this sort of thing would throw a bit of a wrench into the Bushies’ campaign. But as Charles Kaiser notes, these types of statements haven’t really broken through the media din.

On that score, it’s worth asking why the White House and its allies aren’t pushing back a bit harder on the Bushies’ claims. Yes, this is a debate that the White House would like to avoid. But Cheney and other Bush administration officials have launched a major campaign here that shows no signs whatsoever of abating.

Whatever downsides Cheney’s constant public appearances hold for the GOP, the Bushies seem to be having some success shifting the debate onto the narrow question of whether torture “worked.” Shouldn’t we be seeing more push-back from the White House or its outside allies?
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Aspects of the Material World
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 01:12:24 pm »

Happy Hour Open Thread: Bush’s FBI Chief Not Backing Off Torture Views
* Robert Mueller, the Bush-appointed FBI director, is not backing away from his claim in a 2008 interview that torture has not foiled any terror attacks on America, a view that directly contradicts Dick Cheney’s claims.

I asked Mueller’s spokesperson, John Miller, whether he wanted to revise or clarify his view, now that some time has passed since he first expressed it, and Miller declined comment. So Mueller’s claim stands.

* Andrew Sullivan memorably terms the GOP’s defense of torture “the rot of the rump.”

* The Huffington Post catches House GOP leader John Boehner using the word “torture.”

* Which prompts this explanation from a Boehner spokesperson:

“It is clear from the context that Boehner was simply using liberals’ verbiage to describe these interrogation techniques. The United States does not torture.”

* Ben Smith points out that one reason the Cheney camp is successfully shifting the torture debate is that “the White House’s main position on the issue seems to be that it would prefer it went away.”

* Steve Benen explains the lack of White House pushback.

* A big blow to the anti-torture argument: Matthew Yglesias admits that he wouldn’t hesitate to cough up all sorts of secret info about the vast George Soros-Think Progress left wing conspiracy if he were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques.

* GOP Rep Pete King offers a nuanced take:

“If we have another 2,000 people killed, I want Nancy Pelosi and George Soros, John Conyers and Pat Leahy to go to the funeral and say, ‘Your son was vaporized because we didn’t want to dump some guy’s head under water for 30 seconds.’”

Maybe King should have a conversation with Bush’s FBI director about this.

* Some Obama allies are working very hard indeed to push back on the Cheney camp’s torture spin.

* A new Research 2000 poll for DailyKos finds that a majority of Texas Republicans approve of secession talk.

* Which prompts Eric Kleefeld to nominate Chuck Norris for President of the New Texas Republic.

* And Dan Froomkin says that the public sees Obama’s multi-lateralism and embrace of compromise and dialog with enemies as signs of strength.

Update: And a former 9/11 Commission member tells Sam Stein that probing Bush-era torture is not in the country’s interests, which is potentially problematic because the Commission is being held up as a template for what might happen now to investigate torture.
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