Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) was just interviewed on MSNBC and he talked about the new reports that Vice President Cheney tried to get the Iraq WMD investigators — after the invasion — to waterboard an Iraqi intelligence official to try to pump him for information about Saddam’s alleged alliance with al Qaida. Whitehouse noted that this would dramatically change the legal terms of the question since even the notorious OLC memos allow practices like waterboarding to avoid imminent threats to the US. But waterboarding this Iraqi guy about Saddam’s relationship with al Qaida — after the invasion — would have been to get political information, proof of the purported but then largely discredited rationale for the war. (Also worth noting is that an Iraqi intelligence official captured during the invasion would, I think, very clearly be an old fashioned POW.)
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Here are Sen. Whitehouse’s (D-RI) appearances on the topic this afternoon on CNN and MSNBC.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.