Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"U.S. Vice President Admits to War Crime"

In yesterday's Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan declares "U.S. Vice President Admits to War Crime." Well at least somebody understands the implications of Dick Cheney's recent interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News.

Is it just me, or should Cheney blithely, casually admitting to authorizing torture interrogation tactics at least register in the media? Why this isn't being splashed all over every front page in the nation (and around the world) is completely beyond me. If this isn't big news, what is? And yet, it doesn't even seem to be treated as news at all. If it weren't for Rachel Maddow and Andrew Sullivan (anyone else? if so, please let me know), the ABC interview would have escaped my attention entirely.

In his interview with Karl, Cheney says, "I think those who allege that we've been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the terrorist surveillance program, simply don't know what they're talking about."

Huh? Am I the only one who is confused here? I thought it was well and widely understood that waterboarding is indeed torture. And, as Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show last night, the United States has prosecuted individuals who performed waterboarding as war criminals. Apparently Cheney feels free to define terms in whatever way suits him. Never mind that the rest of the world believes that waterboarding is torture and that torture is, well, bad.

In answer to Karl's very next question -- "Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?" -- Cheney says, without missing a beat, without an iota of hesitation: "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared. . . . It's been a remarkably successful effort. I think the results speak for themselves."

Excuse me? the results? Let's think: It is widely acknowledged that torture does not produce good intelligence. What it does do is engender hostility toward the United States, which does not have the effect of making us any safer. Just the opposite. Moreover, the international profile of the United States has been defiled by this reprehensible practice.

Does anyone else think Cheney seems a bit, oh, say, sociopathic? According to Wikipedia, a person with an antisocial personality disorder, otherwise known as a sociopath, shows "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others."

Karl goes on to ask Cheney, "In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?" Cheney's cheery, unflapped reply: "I don't."

Karl: "And on KSM, one of those tactics of course widely reported was waterboarding . . . even that, do you think was appropriate?" And again Cheney replies with his head held high: "I do."

Cheney's demeanor is every bit as alarming as his admissions. He's not hedging at all. He's proud, he's defiant, he's enjoying himself! You can tell he thinks this waterboarding is great stuff. Very successful tactic. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

This is a dark stain on our history that must be addressed legally and morally. We can't just go skipping along because, hey, we have some new guys coming in and we promise they won't do this nasty stuff. Oh yeah, we were just reeling from 9/11. We've come to our senses now. We promise we won't do it again. Does anyone really think that's an acceptable response?

Crimes of this magnitude must be addressed by the nation: in public, in a court of law. Otherwise we are all complicit in this monstrosity. It is a disgrace in which we all share. This is utterly, altogether, and in every way unacceptable. People of good conscience should not allow this to go unchecked, not to mention unnoted.

No more of this! We have to stand up against torture or it will eat away at our identity as a nation. As it is, this country is altogether unrecognizable to me. And I do not tolerate this horror without loud and repeated protest. Enough! Not on my watch! Not in my country!

Update: Glenn Greenwald is also duly outraged. Glenn rocks!

Update 2: The Guardian gets it!

Update 3: And check out this great post on the Lost Albatross: Disproportionate Force


  1. It's outrageous the way this administration has totally ignored basic human rights!

  2. It is, utterly outrageous, and it's horrifying how much damage has been done. I hope that ultimately we have the collective will to hold them accountable.