Liz Cheney Doesn’t Understand the Definition of Libel

Elizabeth Cheney, who I guess gets to be on television because having actual experts on would be boring, clearly does not have a good grasp of the definition of libel. In this clip from MSNBC, she claims that referring to Dick Cheney and the people who waterboarded terrorist suspects as “torturers” is libelous: 

Here’s the relevant portion transcribed, courtesy of Marcy Wheeler and firedoglake:

I hear an awful lot of people out there throwing words around like ‘torture’ and ‘lines being crossed,’ and i think it’s a really, you know, it’s… it’s irresponsible and frankly it’s libelous because you have got brave Americans, men and women, who were involved in this program at the C.I.A who were involved in making sure that the program didn’t cross any lines at the Justice Department. Those people were responsible for saving American lives and keeping us safe. And I think it is offensive for all Americans for this White House to suggest that somehow those actions deserve prosecution or… or… ya-know some sort of ya-know ethical reprimand. [Emphasis mine.]

I would love to see the lawsuit where Dick Cheney and the guys who waterboarded people sue someone for libeling them by saying what he ordered and they performed was torture. Can you imagine the discovery process for that trial? I’m sure the ACLU would sign up to contest Cheney’s lawsuit just for a chance at saying “We’re going to need all these documents from the Bush administration in order to prove our case.” That would be amusing. Also, Cheney, for one, is almost impossible to libel: he’s a public figure. As for the people who carried out the torture orders? It can’t be libel if it’s true. Bring it on, Liz.


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