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Sen. Levin: Cheney "Bore False Witness"

(CBS)
A key senator said Wednesday night that the CIA documents former Vice President Dick Cheney would like declassified -- in order to vindicate the Bush administration's use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding -- do not, in fact, prove the techniques were successful.

"Those classified documents say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at the Foreign Policy Association's annual dinner in Washington on Wednesday.

Furthermore, Levin said, his committee's 18-month investigation into the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and the 200-page bipartisan report it produced "gives the lie to Mr. Cheney's claims."

Levin said Cheney has "bore false witness" in his claims that the acts that took place at Abu Ghraib were isolated events and that the techniques used at that prison had no link to the methods approved by the CIA.

"The seeds of Abu Ghraib's rotten fruit were sown by civilians at the highest levels of our government," Levin said.

Cheney in a speech last week vigorously defended the Bush administration's enhanced interrogation methods, calling them"legal, essential, justified, and successful, and the right thing to do."

He also criticized the Obama administration for declassifying documents that showed the Bush administration's lawyers approved methods like waterboarding without declassifying other documents that allegedly prove the methods helped interrogators obtain useful information.

"For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers," Cheney said.

Levin on Wednesday countered, "I hope that the documents are declassified so that people can judge for themselves what is fact and what is fiction."

The CIA has said the documents must remain classified.

Former President Bush on Thursday also spoke out in defense of his administration's interrogation tactics, saying they were lawful and successfully helped interrogators obtain useful information.

"I can tell you that the information we got saved lives," he said.