PHILADELPHIA — Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney jumped to President Donald Trump’s defense when reports from The New York Times surfaced that the administration prepared an executive order that would allow the CIA to re-establish “black site” prisons overseas to interrogate terror suspects.
“I think the executive order, as I said, is a good executive order. I think the president is doing the right thing. I think he’s saying, ‘Look, we’re gonna take a look at what’s necessary to defend the nation and do a review and make sure we’re undertaking every possible effort to use every tool at our disposal,” Cheney told reporters at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia Wednesday.
Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, helped the Bush administration craft the anti-terrorism policy related to CIA black sites that Obama later reversed.
She explained, “That’s something, frankly, we didn’t do for the past 8 years. And as a result we’re living in a situation where the environment in the Middle East, the extent which we have both ISIS and al Qaeda and Iran, very resurgent and creating situation where we’re not safe and so I was very heartened to see President trump take that step.”
The sites, used during the George W. Bush era, were shut down after Barack Obama came into office.
According to the Times, should Trump sign the draft order, the Pentagon would be instructed to continue using the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, “for the detention and trial of newly captured” detainees such as individuals suspected of being members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, but also Islamic State detainees.
Additionally the draft order would cancel two executive orders in relation to detainees that Obama issued after his first inauguration in 2009. The first one gave instructions to shut down the Guantánamo prison and the other was to end CIA black sites and give Red Cross access to all detainees while restricting interrogators access to the Army Field Manual methods, the Times notes.
Dick Cheney said of the policy during a 2014 interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “Torture, to me … is an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”
He went on to say, “There’s this notion that there’s moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do, and that’s absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture.”
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune thought differently about Trump’s planned executive order, telling reporters earlier in the day, “This is a debate we’ve had already… Now if the administration has a proposal that they want Congress to take a look at, certainly we’re willing to take a look at what it might be that they’re suggesting.”