Admiral Stansfield Turner CNN Transcripts

As I mentioned in this earlier post, former CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner appeared on CNN International this afternoon and took his comments regarding Cheney up a notch. Here are the complete transcripts of that interview :

VERJEE: One of the most outspoken critics of the Bush administration is former CIA director Stansfield Turner. He says Vice President Cheney himself oversees the policy of torturing terror suspects, calling him “The Vice president for torture.”

Stansfield Turner joins us now from Washington.

These are pretty provocative allegations to make.

ADM. STANSFIELD TURNER, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: Well, the vice president is out of tune with his own president, who has said that we do not torture. He’s out of tune with a major Republican senator who knows a lot about torture, Senator McCain, who, of course, was tortured for years in Vietnamese prisons.

I think the vice president’s out of tune with the American people, who don’t want our country tarred with the label of being one that tortures. He’s out of tune with our ambassador in Baghdad, who is, according to today’s media, urging and pressuring the Iraqis to stop torturing their prisoners.

I don’t know where this comes from, but it gives the United States a very bad image around the world, because people here what the vice president is saying and don’t pay as much attention to these other symbols.

VERJEE: We have a statement from the office of the vice president saying, look, he’s not out of touch. The statement reads like this: “The vice president’s views are reflected in the administration’s policy. Our country is at war, and our government has an obligation to protect the American people from a brutal enemy that has declared war upon us.”

It goes on to say, “We’re aggressively finding terrorists and bringing them to justice, and anything we do within this effort is within the law. The United States does not torture” — Admiral.

TURNER: Well, that’s not what the vice president has been saying, that’s not the vice president who is opposing Senator McCain’s proposed law that would prohibit torture. We’ve got…

VERJEE: So you’re saying he’s lying?

TURNER: Well, I’m saying that we’ve got different voices speaking up in this administration, and it’s very confusing. Unfortunately, what the world is going to pick up is the most strident, the most controversial, and that is what the vice president is saying, which appears to be adopting a policy of torture.

VERJEE: Do you think, though, Admiral, that it is at this stage in the war on terror, in some respects, irresponsible to call the vice president of the United States a vice president of torture? Aren’t you handing Islamist terrorists a great piece of propaganda?

TURNER: I certainly am not. It’s the vice president who is out there advocating torture. He’s the one who has made himself the vice president in favor of torture.

VERJEE: But what kind of effect do you think your comments, like these, would have on the morale of American troops?

TURNER: Well, the vice president has been pulling that one out of the hat, justifying anything because it might hurt the troops. It’s just not a sensible thing to do.

VERJEE: Do you think torture is justified in any circumstances, or are you entirely against it?

TURNER: I’m entirely against it.

VERJEE: Why?

TURNER: The vice president…

VERJEE: Well, you know, the — there is the argument that there are, in some instances, particularly in a post-9/11 era, where torture can be justified, if it can extract information that protects the American people.

TURNER: Look, since 9/11, we’ve had to relax some of our procedures so that we can intrude into people’s lives more. We do things today to protect ourselves from terror that we would not normally do.

Torture is beyond the pale. It is going too far.

Number one, it ruins our moral stature amongst ourselves. We can’t be proud of being Americans if we are torturers.

Secondly, it ruins our stature before the world, because the world will look at us in a very different light. But finally, I am a former military man, as is Senator McCain, who is now sponsoring a law to prohibit torture. And we military people don’t want future military people who are taken prisoner by other countries to be subjected to torture in the name of doing just what the United States does.

VERJEE: Stansfield Turner, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

TURNER: You’re welcome.

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