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Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks with members of the media during a news conference at the Republican congressional retreat in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

President Donald Trump’s recent pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel, has ignited controversy. Many people – including some GOP senators – have been critical of Haspel and her role in the use of torture at CIA black sites under the Bush administration.

But Wyoming’s lone representative Liz Cheney was quick to show her support for Haspel — and the use of what she prefers to call the “Enhanced Interrogation Program.”

And she was quick to label those who don’t share her views terrorist sympathizers.

According to Cheney, the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program saved lives and provided the intelligence that led to Osama bin Laden. And according to Cheney, Haspel’s involvement makes her a hero.

Though not everyone sees it that way.

Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain are among many who have questioned Haspel and maintain torture isn’t effective at protecting Americans from acts of terrorism. And a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report would agree.

The Senate Intelligence Committee found that the Enhanced Interrogation Program’s methods (read: torture) were not effective means of acquiring intelligence. The report also found that the agency’s justification of enhanced interrogation techniques (read: torture) was based on inaccurate claims of its effectiveness. In other words, CIA officials misled Congress and the American people about the value of the program and of its methods (read: torture).

Cheney has her own opinion of the program, however. And frankly, we’re dismayed by her hearty defense of what others define as an immoral and ineffective act.

But even more disturbing is Cheney’s position, espoused in a tweet criticizing Paul, that one must either embrace torture or sympathize with terrorists.

Consider the reasons that someone might object to, for example, waterboarding someone dozens of times. A person might consider the act immoral or hold the position that it goes against the teachings of their religion. Does objecting to torture on religious ground make one a terrorist sympathizer? Of course not.

Cheney has expressed confidence in her position, and yet she seeks to silence any discussion about the issue by painting those who take the opposite position as defenders of terrorists. If she truly believes in the use of torture for the sake of national security, then she should encourage and engage in a dialogue about why, instead of labeling dissenters terrorist sympathizers.

Reasonable people can and should debate the best methods of national security. Patriotic Americans can disagree about the effectiveness of those methods.

The CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program damaged America’s standing in the world. It can even be argued that it aided anti-American ideology and propaganda that has fueled global tensions and aided our enemies in their recruitment. And the officials behind the program supplied Congress with false intelligence in order to ensure the continuation of the program.

Cheney has called critics of the program unpatriotic. In reality, they are just the opposite.

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