CIA Memos Prove U.S. Doesn't Torture?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," April 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Now, some people think that the release of CIA memos, you know, prove we didn't torture.

Click here to read the memos

David Rivkin is a guy who served in the Justice Department under Bush 41, was a delegate to the U.N. Sub-Commission to the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

David, how are you are, sir?


BECK: OK. Here's the — first of all, don't make any sudden moves, I have a fluorescent light bulb and I know how to use it.

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The torture subject with transnationalism, this is a case of transnationalism. We're not talking about our laws. We're talking about something that we signed a treaty to back in the Clinton era that defines torture and everything else that is so broad — really, I swear to you, you know, some holidays, with my family could be described as torture. Am I right or wrong?

RIVKIN: Well, and — with all due respect, you're both right and wrong.

The treaty has broad language. Torture is defined basically as intentional infliction of severe — and I emphasize the word "severe" — physical and mental pain and suffering.

But, if you look at the memos...

BECK: You haven't been — you haven't been on Christmas in my house. You know what I'm saying.

RIVKIN: Well, in that case, I am looking forward to experiencing it one day.

But seriously speaking, these memos which I found enormously useful reading — and I hope many of your viewers, even non-lawyers, would do it — goes into great view of detail into examining — by the way, it's not — it's not "24 hours." It is not Gary Bauer (ph).

They are really providing a very careful description of how to cabin the use of those techniques, out of 10 techniques used, nine — 10 being the caterpillar thing, which is kind of silly — nine had been used on over 40,000 American servicemen in the course of 10-plus years, going first year that Colonel North is describing.

And very important, lots of — and by the way, none of them cause pain, so pain is off the table. No severe pain, no pain whatsoever, basically. So, the only question is, is that mental suffering. And guess what? The military being the military provided years of follow-up to look at these people and discovered that there was none — repeat, none...


RIVKIN: ...long — and by the way, the reason it's so credible. Let me just say briefly here, the reason it's so credible, it wasn't done post-September 11th. It was done years earlier when nobody had any axe to grind. So, this is body of data that proves definitively it was not torture as defined by the convention.

BECK: OK. All right. David, first of all, I think Gary Bauer — isn't he a guy who runs like a Christian something?


RIVKIN: Oh, forgive me. I meant...


BECK: Right now, Gary is like, oh, yeah? You want a piece of me?

The second thing I want to talk to you about is — because you've been around presidents before. You've seen them make them decisions. This is not a small decision to say, "I'm going to go after the ex-president of the United States, the former president." I'm — it's never, ever been done.

Here is a constitutional scholar, we're told. How is it that he says, in one 24-hour period, I'm not going to go after the president, we're not going to do that, we're going to look forward? His press secretary says, we made the decision, we're moving forward. And then 25 hours later, he flips on that.

Who is on the other end of the BlackBerry? Who changed the president's mind or do you think it's possible that he just was like, "You know what? Oh, I've been thinking about that and I'm going to reverse myself"?

RIVKIN: Two answers. First of all, I did not — I don't think they completely figured this out. When they decided to release the memos, they were told, I'm sure, by people like Panetta, by people like Dennis Blair, that you have to reassure CIA operators because you cannot run an agency where there are people that concerned and anxious about their fate for all the reasons you and the Colonel North were discussing. And they had this one figured out.

They did not figure out that you cannot simultaneously reassure CIA operators while providing absolutely no reassurance to the lawyers involved and the policymakers. They could no longer stick with their "let's look forward and not backwards" formulation.

So, once that came out — and by the way, I think that they didn't foresee it, to me, it does not say very much about the quality of their internal deliberations. Once they figured out they had a problem, they started scrambling. And you had the chief of staff go one way and you had the president go another way — enormously unusual in Washington.


BECK: David, I got to go into a break but I have to leave you at this
— I mean, when does the chief of staff trump the president of the United States? He's the president of the United States! He made the decision. We're moving forward. I mean, that's the way the presidents usually work. I've just never seen anything like it.

David, I thank you very much for your time on the program today.

RIVKIN: My pleasure.

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