Senator Angus King (I-ME) has a message for former vice president Dick Cheney: If you don’t believe waterboarding is torture, then submit to it yourself.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Up With Steve Kornacki,” King said he “couldn’t believe” remarks made by George W. Bush’s second-in-command during a recent address to students and faculty at American University in Washington, DC.
“Some people called it torture, it wasn’t torture,” Cheney later insisted on student TV station ATV. “If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” he said.
A group of student protesters walked out of Cheney’s speech, shouting “war criminal” as they left.
“Frankly, I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney just now,” King, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. “If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go though what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus odd times. That’s ridiculous to make that claim.”
“This was torture by anybody’s definition,” the senator continued, adding that Cheney’s statement was “absolute nonsense.”
While Cheney may have supported waterboarding and dismissed it as a mere “dunk in the water,” he has previously stated that it would not be acceptable if Iranian interrogators waterboarded an American citizen.
Cheney is one of more than a dozen Bush administration officials who devised, authorized and implemented what they called an “enhanced interrogation” program in the wake of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States. Many of the techniques, both approved and otherwise, violate US and international law.
Among the approved and other abuses committed by US military and intelligence operatives were: homicide, rape, imprisonment of innocent family members as bargaining chips, denial of food, water and medical treatment, solitary confinement, sleep and sensory deprivation, exposure (sometimes fatal) to extremes of temperature, exposure to loud music, severe beatings, force-feeding, painful stress positions, and menacing and attacking with dogs.
Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved the declassification of the executive summary of a 6,200-page report detailing the CIA’s torture program.
“The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week. “It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”