Rachel Maddow asks Lawrence Wilkerson if Dick Cheney's insistence on defending himself in public is helping to create the political will for torture i
May 13, 2009

Rachel Maddow asks Lawrence Wilkerson if Dick Cheney's insistence on defending himself in public is helping to create the political will for torture investigations, and thus hurting the Republican Party. Lawrence Wilkerson wonders if there's anyone in the Republican Party with the intestinal fortitude to tell Cheney what he needs to hear if they're not going to remain a minority party forever.

Maddow: Col. Wilkerson, you're a Republican and I think that the, you're not a politician, but I think that the political implications of Cheney being out there so publicly on this issue are pretty obvious. Is there anybody in the Republican Party who might tell him to keep quiet or leave the stage or stop advancing his own agenda he seems to be pursuing at the expense of the party? Is there anybody who could tell him to keep quiet who he might listen to?

Wilkerson: I would have expected that George H.W. Bush would have said something in private certainly. I don't know that former Vice President Cheney would have listened at this point though. His attack on Colin Powell was something that stunned me. I didn't think that he would go that far. He's destroying what's left of the Republican party. I think the latest polls show we're down to 21% of Americans who identify as Republicans.

I suspect that if Cheney continues it will be down in the low teens. He's destroying the party. There needs to be someone with some, ahhh ... as we say in the Army, some intestinal fortitude, some guts, who steps forward and tells this man to go home and shut up.

Update: Lawrence Wilkerson was a guest blogger at the Washington Note.

From the article:

My investigations have revealed to me--vividly and clearly--that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering "the Cheney methods of interrogation", simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)

Less important but still busting my chops as a Republican, is the damage that the Sith Lord Cheney is doing to my political party.

He and Rush Limbaugh seem to be its leaders now. Lindsay Graham, John McCain, John Boehner, and all other Republicans of note seem to be either so enamored of Cheney-Limbaugh (or fearful of them?) or, on the other hand, so appalled by them, that the cat has their tongues. And meanwhile fewer Americans identify as Republicans than at any time since WWII. We're at 21% and falling--right in line with the number of cranks, reprobates, and loonies in the country.

When will we hear from those in my party who give a damn about their country and about the party of Lincoln?

When will someone of stature tell Dick Cheney that enough is enough? Go home. Spend your 70 million. Luxuriate in your Eastern Shore mansion. Shoot quail with your friends--and your friends.

Stay out of our way as we try to repair the extensive damage you've done--to the country and to its Republican Party.

Can you help us out?

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